Army deployed to curb protest

This MyCiTi bus operating along feeder route 261 was gutted in Joe Slovo.

The army rolled into Dunoon and Joe Slovo on Tuesday in response to rioting that has seen cars stoned, trucks and a bus torched and a bus station wrecked.

Damage is expected to run into millions of rand although the City has yet to put an actual figure on it.

The violence erupted last Thursday and came after taxi drivers accused traffic authorities of targeting them unfairly, but the drivers say they are not to blame for the anarchy that followed. They say that was the work of criminals who exploited the situation.

According to Dunoon Taxi Association (DTA) secretary-general Frank Qotyiwe, the City cracked down on taxis after two law enforcement officers were assaulted by taxi drivers – not DTA members, according to Mr Qotyiwe – last Wednesday.

Subsequent roadblocks in the Milnerton area and on Potsdam Road saw taxis stopped and fined and 20 DTA vehicles were impounded, said Mr Qotyiwe.

“We condemn the attack of the officers, and we can assure the public that the drivers weren’t ours.

We do, however, feel that we have been a target for the City Traffic Services for some time and that is one of the reasons we decided to stop operating.

“We have 240 taxis registered in our association, and in the past seven years, we have applied for permits for our taxis to operate in the Milnerton area but nothing has een done, even though there is a huge demand for our services in the area.”

Shana Grobler, of Table View, who runs a domestic-helper business, said she was attacked by four men as she dropped off staff on Potsdam Road, near Dunoon, last Thursday. She was driving a

white Toyota Quantum with her company’s branding on the side of it.

“They shouted for me to switch off my car and one of them grabbed my keys. Another pulled out a knife and held it to my neck. I was scared, but tried to talk to him calmly and explained to him that I was dropping off my staff and didn’t mean to offend.

“I think it was my calm demeanour that de-escalated the situation, but he still shouted at me to go and threatened to kill any police or passengers who interfere with the strike,” she said.

Ms Grobler said she sympathised with the man who attacked her.

“Wouldn’t you be angry if you had to live in your own sewage with the City not making sure you have basic services? And how would you react to people judging you by the actions of a few, calling you animals and criminals? I’m not excusing what happened to me and what is happening to others, but I think the government needs to listen to the cries of its people.”

A video on Facebook showed men throwing rocks at black BMW in Koeberg Road last Friday morning.

The driver of the car, Kayla Finnega, told Tabletalk she had been on her way to work when she encountered the men blocking the road.

“They were wearing green masks and were throwing rocks. I heard a loud bang, and I thought it was a gun. After seeing the video, I realised that it was one of the rocks hitting my car. When I turned to go the other way, they started chasing my car, and one of them tried breaking my windows.”

The Phoenix MyCiTi station in Joe Slovo was destroyed after rioters torched it on Friday morning.

The station is next to Sinenjongo High School. The school’s principal, Khuselwa Nopote, said it was a blow for matrics preparing for their exams.

“Our matrics are busy with revision classes, but we had to cancel the Friday classes because of the violence. We don’t want to put our pupils and our staff in danger. Half of our pupils are from Dunoon and this is a vital time of the year for them.”

Matrics will write computer applications technology exams on Wednesday October 16, and Ms Nopote fears continued rioting could jeopardise her matrics’ preparations for that exam.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said City resources had been deployed to help SAPS quell the violence.

Taxi drivers and owners, he said, felt the City should hold discussions with them first before arresting or finding them for offences.

“This is a preposterous proposal. Public transport operators and owners need to realise that the law applies just as much to them as every other motorist, and that they have a larger burden of responsibility than anybody else on the road. Their conduct is a disgrace.”

Milnerton SAPS spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said that on Monday more than ten people had reported having their cars stoned, and a truck had set alight on the N7 near Dunoon. Five people had been arrested and charged with public violence, she said.

Table View Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Mandy Da Matta said: “We have made it abundantly clear to the DTA that as long as their drivers behave in an unroadworthy manner, they will be stopped and will have their taxis impounded and they will face fines.”