All quiet despite talk of violence in taxi dispute

Despite the SMS that made the rounds threatening with violence and interruption of roads in Mthatha, nothing happened but many shops especially those run by foreign nationals remain closed.

Some schools in fear of the safety of their pupils and staff issued a warning to parents not to send their children to school for the day.

Armed police are monitoring the situation around the Mthatha CBD because of the ongoing taxi violence in the area Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

But as earlier as 4am there had been strong police patrols and other law-enforcement agencies in the highways leading and leaving Mthatha and in the CBD areas.

In fact Mthatha for today remain quiet with few traffic volume to town and commuters were in long queues walking to town in all entrances.

The feuding taxi associations, Uncedo Service Taxi Association (Usta) and the Border Alliance Taxi Association (Bata) taxi owners and leaders of these two associated had in their mass meeting addressed by both provincial and national leaders at Mthatha Stadium on Sunday distance themselves from the SMSs and called for police to act swiftly in arresting those instigating violence and making threats saying that was denting the integrity of the peace talks between the two associations as well as the government.

This morning some of the taxi owners have been busy supporting police in patrolling Mthatha  in thwarting the purported town shutdown and violence that might have ensued as a result. There had been some  government threats that  if there could be some  voilence today, taxi operations would be  closed for not less  than three months.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has since the Easter weekend announced indefinite closure of all taxi ranks in Mthatha as well as some main routes including the R61 between Mthatha and Port St Johns and surrounding areas and the R61 between Mthatha and Tsolo junction and the route from Tsolo to Ugie and Maclear.

This came up after more than 60 people died during the taxi violence since 2016.

The leaders of Uncedo and Bata as well as 50 taxi owners emerged from the mass meeting – the first of it kind to have them under one roof – talking peace, harmony and working together between the two associations.

They hope to present their peace agreement proposal to Cele  who is  expected to be in Mthatha either Thursday or Friday. Meanwhile, all taxi operations in Mthatha remain suspended.