Different taxi associations led a motorcade through Tshwane on Tuesday, as a demonstration against xenophobia and to clear their names in the violence that broke out in the capital city last month.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) were part of the motorcade, which drove through Tshwane’s CBD to different taxi ranks.
A small group of representatives walked in front of the motorcade, holding up placards speaking out against xenophobia, lawlessness, drug dealing, and other issues that affect South Africa.
Santaco spokesperson Mack Makata told News24: “Today’s motorcade is all about clearing our name as the taxi industry. You will remember, in the past few weeks, there was a situation in the city where there was looting, there were stints of xenophobia, and all of that.
“We are saying no to xenophobia and, in the same breath, we are saying no to drugs as well, irrespective of nationality.”
Makata was referring to the chaos which unfolded in the CBD a couple of weeks ago, where foreign-owned shops were targeted, looted and set alight.
Since the start of the unrest in Tshwane, violence spread to parts of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni. Twelve people were killed during the riots.
Taxi operators previously distanced themselves from the violence, saying that their protest was against drug dealers, after one of their drivers was shot and killed when he accosted an alleged drug dealer in August.
“Perpetrators took advantage of an innocent protest by taxi operators, knowing that whenever the taxi industry is involved, the situation can get nasty. So criminals saw an opportunity and did some looting. It is not in our nature [to loot],” Makata said.
“We want to make a statement today and say, not in my name as the taxi industry that we promote hooliganism, shop looting, and those type of things.”
Member of the mayoral committee for roads and transport Sheila Senkubuge announced that a joint steering committee would be set up, comprising the taxi industry, different City departments, Gauteng roads and transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo, the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD), and Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela.
The committee will look at ways of ridding the city of drug dealers and corrupt police officers.
Senkubuge also distanced the taxi operators from the violence that engulfed the Pretoria CBD.
“It is also very important for us to reiterate from the side of the City that we do not believe that the actions from the drivers were xenophobic in their nature. The intent was to get assistance in order to clean up the drug use in the city centre, as well as the sales,” Senkubuge said.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he would be sending special envoys to deliver messages of solidarity to several heads of state and governments across Africa, amid tensions and violence in the country.
Spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement on Sunday: “The special envoys will deliver a message from President Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts of South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property.”
The team, which includes Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo, and Dr Khulu Mbatha, are expected to visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia, News24 reported.