Taxi driver shot dead, violence escalates in Pretoria CBD

27 August 2019 - 18:23
By Nomahlubi Jordaan and Penwell Dlamini
Violence in the Pretoria CBD forced the Gautrain to stop running its bus service on Tuesday. File photo.
Image: James and Ethel Gray Park Violence in the Pretoria CBD forced the Gautrain to stop running its bus service on Tuesday. File photo.

A taxi driver was killed during a protest which erupted in the Pretoria inner city after taxi operators tried to forcefully remove alleged drug addicts from the streets.

The Gautrain bus service was forced to stop operating on Tuesday after what it described on its official app as "escalating violence" in the Pretoria CBD.

SAPS spokesman Capt Mavela Masondo confirmed that a group of taxi drivers had been complaining of drug addicts at the Bloed rank.

He said that the taxi drivers chased after a suspected drug addict and a shot was fired. One of the taxi drivers was hit, and was declared dead on the scene.

"There is no information as to who shot the taxi driver," said Masondo.

No arrests have been made.

City of Tshwane MMC for transport, Sheila Senkubuge, told SowetanLIVE that parts of the inner city came to a standstill as six vehicles were seized by disgruntled protesters on Tuesday afternoon.

“A shooting which resulted in the death of a taxi driver is reported to have incited the riots, which led to two A Re Yeng buses, three Tshwane Bus Service [TBS] buses, a Gautrain bus and two trucks being used to blockade the roads,” said Senkubuge.

The A Re Yeng and TBS bus operations were halted for the rest of the day "in the interest of safety", she added.

The seized buses were not damaged.

Senkubuge condemned the shooting.

“The taking of a human life is never justified and the perpetrators of this murder and unlawful usage of public transport vehicles must be made accountable for these crimes,” Senkubuge said.

According to information received by TimesLIVE's sister publication SowetanLIVE, it is understood that a group of taxi operators decided to clean the city’s streets of "nyaope boys" after learning that taxi drivers were now using the drugs.

It is unclear whether the group was made up of taxi drivers or owners, but the group pounced on one of the spots where the drugs were sold.

According to sources, people believed to be police officers were found by the taxi operators involved in the selling of the drugs. Shots were then fired which resulted in the death of the taxi driver.

Incited by the shooting, angry taxi operators then used the city’s buses to block traffic to “deal” with the so-called nyaope boys.

According to Traffic SA there was "heavy congestion" in the CBD due to roads being closed. Shops were also closed.

Attempts to get comment from SAPS and metro police were not immediately successful on Tuesday evening.