Durban - Multiple roads in and around the Mbombela CBD (Nelspruit) were on Wednesday blocked off by fuel protesters who were aggrieved by the rising fuel costs in the country.
IOL spoke to sources in Mbombela who confirmed that trucks and taxis were parked across roads in the CBD and the N4, heading into the city.
The protest started early on Wednesday morning, according to John Meintjies from ACS Security.
Meintjies, who is part of the Lowveld Security Joint Operations Command (JOC), said taxi operators blocked off the roads using their minibus taxis.
He said that in some instances the taxi drivers instructed truck drivers to park their vehicles across the road to block off certain access points to and from the CBD.
“The first warning came out before 2am. Information came to us saying the taxi association was going to protest against the fuel prices.
“First, we received word that truck drivers were blocked by taxi drivers, who instructed them to pull off. They then instructed the driver to park on the road and removed his keys. The next phase was that they started blocking the road with taxis.
“The protest did take a violent turn, as we heard that people were throwing stones in the CBD. Businesses in the CBD were also instructed to close,” Meintjies said.
Police spokesperson in Mpumalanga Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told IOL on Wednesday afternoon that the protest action had been cleared and that roads were open for motorists.
Mohlala said parts of the N4 heading into Mbombela were still blocked off.
“It was put together by people in the taxi industry. They started at around 4am or 5am this morning.
“The roads in the CBD are now cleared and opened. All of the trucks and taxis that were there are now cleared. There was no looting reported. The N4 towards Nelspruit is still closed.
“I do not know if those involved belong to any taxi association,” Mohlala said.
A report by local media, the Lowvelder, said protesters also allegedly blocked off the police station in Bester Street.
IOL spoke to Moses Gama, the spokesperson for Santaco in Mpumalanga.
Gama said he had no knowledge of whether or not Santaco members were involved in the protest.
Gama was speaking to IOL while making his way into Mbombela after hearing about the protest.
“I don’t have any information about that. I heard about the protest this morning and I am driving into Nelspruit as we speak but I don’t have information if Santaco was involved,” Gama said.