The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to protest-hit Dunoon, Cape Town, early on Tuesday morning not to stop protests, but to raid premises for drugs and guns, Western Cape police said.
“The forces are focusing on the generators of crime such as drugs and firearms. Please note, the deployments are not about the protest but generators of crime in the area,” said Captain FC van Wyk about the SANDF’s support for the police’s Operation Lockdown mission.
The SANDF’s mandate to stay in Cape Town to support the police was extended to March 2020. It was not immediately clear whether it was meant to be limited to the Cape Flats, but the troops have already assisted in an abalone raid in Table View.
Van Wyk said the mission targeted the Table View and Dunoon taxi ranks on Monday night, adding it had continued on Tuesday morning.
A later statement said Milnerton police had also confiscated dagga worth around R10,000 from a 31-year-old foreign national at a salon.
Meanwhile, the public order policing unit was deployed to maintain law and order amid uncertainty over the protests as a small number of police and law enforcement officers patrolled the area.
Residents, who gathered on the litter-strewn roads on Tuesday, waited for news on whether there would be any resolution to the impasse that has kept the neighbourhood cut off from public transportation.
MyCiTi buses were turning at ranks further down its route, and motorists were reluctant to drive through due to sporadic stone throwing. A truck transporting eggs was stopped, torched and looted on Monday.
People have been walking long distances to reach the next available public transportation hub, and it appeared that refuse had not been collected either. Traffic jams in the surrounding areas were severe as motorists were unable to take their normal routes due to road closures.
“There is a misunderstanding that the taxis caused this strike,” said community leader Sinethemba Matomela who blamed the City of Cape Town for not responding to the demand for more taxis in the area.
Matomela added the City had not supplied the promised smaller “feeder” buses that would help people complete their journeys safely off the main MyCiTi routes.
He said if people walked the rest of the way instead of catching taxis, because the feeder buses were not serving the area, they would be easy prey for criminals, especially at night.
Matomela urged the City to issue the extra permits that the taxi drivers needed.
Speaking near a group of parked taxis, Dunoon Taxi Association secretary Frank Qotyiwe said law enforcement unit had come down hard on them after an officer was assaulted.
Qotyiwe added the association was trying to open lines of communication with the authorities and had written to Transport MMC Felicity Purchase hoping to set up a meeting at 18.00pm on Tuesday to resolve the issues.
On Monday, Purchase told News24 the Phoenix bus station next to Joe Slovo, another suburb that has also been subjected to protest-related road closures, had to be closed, with buses being rerouted to other areas.
“We are busy calculating the costs of the damage to the MyCiTi infrastructure. The millions needed to do the repairs could have been used for the provision of housing and other critical services to the residents living in Dunoon and Joe Slovo,” she said.
Purchase condemned the violence and damage to property.
Three people have been arrested – two for allegedly stoning vehicles, and one for allegedly carrying a drum of oil intended to start a fire on a road.
“Most of the residents, who are living in Dunoon and Joe Slovo, are doing the best they can to provide for their families. They rely on public transportation to get to work and school. They have been prevented from doing so by the violent protesters,” she said.
“Also, the local economy and informal businesses in these areas have been severely affected.”
Purchase said construction was supposed to have started on a new taxi rank for Dunoon, but work was suspended due to the protests.
ANC ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the City was being “mischievous” by telling the public one thing, but transportation operators another.
News24 understands that 51 operators’ permits were advertised but they have not been allocated yet. “Even 10 or more buses won’t solve the problem. People need minibus taxis,” Makeleni said.