Cops face off with Tshwane taxi drivers on a clean up campaign to rid the city of drugs in Sunnyside to protest as they allege it is the drug den of the City. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - After chaotic clashes between taxi drivers and those they claim were selling drugs in Tshwane during the week, an uneasy calm was restored to the city and the CBD was back to normal.

The portfolio committee on police has called for taxi drivers to let the police deal with the removal of drugs in the city after taxi drivers said they would take the law into their own hands because, they claimed, police allowed an illegal drug trade to flourish around the Bloed Street taxi rank.

The so-called “nyaope boys” allegedly rob commuters and are said to be involved in other crimes, so the taxi drivers want to get rid of them and their influence.

The violence escalated and a taxi driver was shot and killed, causing a volatile situation on Wednesday, where foreign-owned shops were looted and burnt in retaliation. Lillian Ngoyi Street was closed and there was a heavy police presence around the city.

Taxi drivers, who moved from Brown Street in the city centre, on Thursday took their protest to Sunnyside, which they said was a drug cesspool. They have denied their actions are xenophobic.

SA National Taxi Council regional chairperson Xolly Tshabalala said: “We are not xenophobic at all. We are saying the police do not take us taxi drivers seriously.”

Police portfolio committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson denounced the actions of taxi drivers. She said while the committee supported the fight against crime in general and the fight against drugs in particular it cautioned against civilians taking the law into their hands.

Sheila-Lynn Senkubuge, MMC for roads and transport, described the taxi drivers’ actions as “good intentions coupled with a bad modus operandi”.

Reactions on social media regarding the “clean-up” have been mixed, with some applauding the city’s taxi drivers and others claiming it was an excuse to victimise foreign nationals.

While some pledged their support of the drivers’ initiative to deal with nyaope and other drugs, others, such as Facebook user, Toni Nchabeleng, said: “I think we should pay our outstanding e-tolls fees to taxi drivers.

Pretoria News