South African province vows to deal with flared minibus violence harshly

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 21, 2021
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CAPE TOWN, July 20 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's Western Cape Province on Tuesday vowed to deal with ongoing violence related to minisbus, locally known as taxi, in the "harshest terms possible," as it continues causing casualties in the province.

Taxi-related violence, usually due to the turf war between different taxi associations, flared in the province in recent months, resulting in the deaths of taxi operators, drivers and commuters.

Officials figures released on July 7 said the total number of taxi-related murders in the province has reached 71 since the start of this year. Although efforts have been made to curb the situation since then, more shooting incidents have happened, where a police officer and a five-year-old baby were among the victims.

Golden Arrow Bus Services, the main bus operator in the province and the provincial capital Cape Town, since Monday has limited the number of buses in operation to ensure the security and safety of passengers and staff after one of its bus drivers sustained a gunshot injury to his mouth in a taxi violence-related incident on Monday morning near the Cape Town International Airport, and threats and intimidation were made through social media, which the provincial government said affected 120,000 people.

"Warlords and thugs in the taxi industry are holding so many citizens to ransom, and the murders, where innocent citizens and bystanders that are affected by thuggish behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and needs to be dealt with in the harshest terms possible," Western Cape Premier Alan Winde told a digital press conference that updated the media and the public on the province's response to the ongoing taxi violence.

He said the maximum deployment of police has been shifted into hotspot areas that are facing the brunt of the "taxi war," particularly the southeast region of Cape Town, adding that it is also holding the economy to ransom.

Law enforcement agencies have met to make a joint approach, he added.

Buses are being escorted and since Monday, police have arrested 12 people from taxi associations for the possession of unlicensed firearms, provincial police boss Thembisile Patekile told the press conference.

Cape Town's top security official Alderman JP Smith on Tuesday said the city's law enforcement services continue to work closely with the South African Police Service and other role-players to mitigate the threat of violence in the ongoing taxi conflict.

He called on rival taxi associations to come to the table and find an "amicable solution" to the impasse.

The violence has prompted the national government to intervene. South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has been engaged in discussions with representatives of rival taxi associations since last Friday. Enditem

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