Major Mthatha taxi routes closed

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South African National police Commission
Major Mthatha taxi routes closed

Police Minister Bheki Cele recently announced the immediate and indefinite closure of major taxi routes in Mthatha and surrounding areas.

The affected routes are the R61 and the N2 junction to Maclear and Tsolo, respectively.

This follows ongoing conflicts that have resulted in the killing of more than 60 people since 2016.

“The selfishness of the taxi industry must be cut to zero. We cannot continue to count dead bodies… Sixty people is a big number. The killings must be eradicated or else taxi operators will lose their business.

“The routes belong to the citizens of this country and are not to be manipulated by taxi bosses for selfish financial gains,” said Minister Cele on Tuesday.

Despite several interventions, including the signing of the peace accord that was facilitated by the provincial government to bring peace to the rival associations, all have failed.

After the signing of the ceasefire agreement, 13 people have been killed and 17 cases of attempted murder have been registered.

“We are not a banana republic, therefore business cannot continue as usual…” said Minister Cele.

The Minister said meetings between government, police and the top executive of the two rival taxi operators, Uncedo Services Taxi Association and Border Alliance Taxi Association, have borne no fruit.

The discussions were exhausted without any of the parties taking responsibility of the ongoing violence, except expressing themselves in admitting to the severity of the pain of the ongoing killings, which has claimed the lives of both operators and innocent commuters.

Minister Cele said investigations are at an advanced stage to apprehend the masterminds in the taxi wars.

A team of specialised forces have been deployed to strategic and volatile areas to maintain law and order and to furthermore increase police visibility for the benefit of the safety of ordinary citizens.

Police driven operations have yielded results in arresting 48 people, who are also positively linked to other serious and violent crimes in other provinces.

In taking the decision to close down the taxi operations indefinitely, Minister Cele indicated willingness to meet both taxi operators once they have “sobered up”, and to engage on further discussions with the aim of finding a long lasting solution in ending the taxi wars in the Eastern Cape.

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