Nelson Mandela Bay mayor calls for army to intervene in violent taxi protests

Eastern Cape taxi operators and drivers are embroiled in a dispute over Covid-19 relief funds. File photo.
Eastern Cape taxi operators and drivers are embroiled in a dispute over Covid-19 relief funds. File photo.

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga has called for the army to be deployed to help police end a violent taxi protest over Covid-19 relief funds.

The protest, which started on Tuesday, has wreaked havoc in the metro, disrupted the local economy and left commuters stranded.

“I have heard of patients and healthcare workers being chased away from healthcare facilities by protesters, while patients were in desperate need of medical attention,” Bhanga said on Thursday.

“Schools are closed, hospitals are affected, roads are closed. We cannot allow this lawlessness to continue and I condemn these actions in the strongest terms.”

HeraldLIVE reported on Friday that the protest involved a dispute between taxi drivers and owners over allegedly unpaid Covid-19 relief funds. Drivers wanted to know where their R6.5m temporary employer/employee relief scheme (Ters) money was. Drivers had claimed earlier in the week that operators had hoarded the relief funds.

Several people have been arrested for damaging infrastructure. Buses were set alight at the Algoa Bus Company depot in Motherwell on Wednesday, reported HeraldLIVE.

Describing the situation as “untenable”, Bhanga said the national transport minister, premier and provincial police commissioner “share our concerns”.

“I have written to the president and the premier and requested that the provisions of section 201 (2) (a) of the constitution be invoked and the SANDF be deployed to Nelson Mandela Bay, to accompany and assist the SAPS in restoring law and order.”

Bhanga convened a meeting between taxi industry stakeholders on Thursday after the destruction of buses, private property and municipal infrastructure. He had hoped for an amicable solution but added in a statement: “Unfortunately, this did not happen and no resolution was agreed to by the parties.”

Bhanga said community meetings would be held on Friday in a bid to restore calm. Engagements would be conducted with the business fraternity.


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