Pretoria - Taxi drivers have vowed to continue their war against drugs despite the fatal shooting of their colleague which sparked violent protests in the CBD over the past two days.
The violence that started late on Tuesday afternoon after the killing of the driver continued under the watchful eye of police in Sunnyside yesterday.
Foreign nationals stood on one side with hundreds of taxi drivers on the other demanding that suspected drug dealers leave the area. As they did in the city centre on Wednesday, they again targeted shops owned by foreign nationals, saying they were distributing drugs.
The idea started in May, with taxi drivers using sjamboks and sticks to disperse and get rid of suspected nyaope users on the notorious Brown Street.
They said yesterday it did not make sense to deal with small parts of the problem affecting many township youths around Tshwane without acting against the source of it all.
“Anyone who lives or has been in CBD knows that if you want drugs at any given time, Sunnyside is the place to go,” said taxi driver Sello Sekgale.
“We are not fighting with the police; all we want is for them to come with us so we can search through each and every flat here. We know there are drugs here and we want them gone.”
Sekgale said they were happy Sunnyside police were willing to work with them, something that could not be said about some officers at Pretoria Central, who, he claimed, were working with the drug dealers.
“We know they work with these people because when we try to report (them) they are the ones who turn around and tip them off. Next thing you know you are being called to be threatened by these foreign nationals.”
Police managed to restore an uneasy calm in the area, and some businesses attempted to reopen shortly after the groups had dispersed.
The violence erupted on Tuesday afternoon after a taxi driver, identified as Jabu Baloyi, was shot, allegedly by a foreign national. The drivers had confronted the perpetrator for allegedly dealing drugs in the CBD.
In retaliation, the angry crowd set alight numerous stores suspected of being run by foreign nationals on Wednesday, accusing them of selling drugs to young people around the Lilian Ngoyi and Brown streets intersection.
Life returned to normal yesterday in the CBD.
Several shopowners had fled the area following the violence of the previous day. Some shops remained closed while owners tried to salvage what was left of their stock following the looting and fire.
Seven shops were razed to the ground near the intersection of Brown and Lilian Ngoyi streets.
Meanwhile, the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry said protests in the CBD were taking a high toll on its members.
CEO Pieter du Toit said: “The damage to businesses costs a lot of money. Eventually business will be forced to relocate elsewhere. This would not be good for the city.”
Du Toit said it had become the norm in the CBD that businesses lost two to three trading days a month as a result of protests or strikes.
There was also a heavy police presence at all the African embassies in Arcadia yesterday.
Back in the CBD, most welcomed the drug clean-up by the taxi drivers.
Many said they feared drug dealers and users and stated they had lost all hope in the police, who they accused of being at the forefront of criminality and corruption.