News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday December 18th 2018

Widespread taxi violence hits Cape Town, Somali shops looted

Peter Luhanga

Police fire rubber bullets after taxi and shebeen protests turned violent in Du Noon yesterday morning (subs: Wed). Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN          Tyres burnt in the streets and random gun shots could be heard in Cape Town’s Du Noon township on Wednesday night as taxi violence spilled over into the looting of Somali-owned shops. The Du Noon looting came after the first day of a three day taxi strike in Cape Town, which began on Wednesday. Taxi operators are protesting against the planned implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), which will see dedicated bus lanes on City roads.

There was widespread stoning of cars and buses by taxi operators on the first day of the strike.

Apart from Du Noon, other hotspots were Khayelitsha and Nyanga, where there were reports of a heavy police presence on Wednesday night.

The Cape Argus newspaper reported on Thursday that 47 Golden Arrow buses had been stoned and 33 people injured across Cape Town.

In Du Noon, police confirmed that 10 shops were looted on Wednesday night, but denied that the incidents were linked to xenophobia.

At 9pm last night a chaotic situation prevailed in Du Noon, a township near Milnerton.

A police helicopter hovered overhead with its search light roaming the streets. On the ground, a heavy police presence appeared to be focused on trying to prevent crowds from gathering.

Some excited residents could be seen running through the streets carrying looted food items.

Falah Abdulkadir, a Somali shop owner, said on Wednesday morning cars had driven through the street telling Somali shop owners through loudspeakers that they should close their shops.

In the evening, he said, people had broken into his shop and destroyed or stolen goods worth about R20,000. He said he had organised a car from a friend to take away remaining goods and shop equipment.

“I am not sure if I am going to return to Du Noon because the situation is very hectic,” he said, as police guarded him while he loaded his possessions in a bakkie.

He said all Somali nationals had left Du Noon and dispersed to places around Cape Town where they could find safety.

Du Noon Advice Centre director Philemon Khoza said whenever there was strife in the township, Somali shopowners were “soft targets”.

He said: “These people really help the community. Chasing them out of here means the residents will have to travel to buy a packet of salt.”

ANC councillor Peace Stemela condemned the situation, linking the looting to the taxi violence.

He said there were individuals claiming to be community leaders who “created the chaos”.

Milnerton police spokesperson Daphne Dell denied the looting was linked to xenophobia. “They are pure criminal elements,” she said.

She said 10 shops had been looted. Five people, aged between 18 and 29, had been arrested.

She said “criminal elements” were using shebeen and taxi strife to “further their personal agendas”.

Meanwhile, as in other communities around Cape Town, where thousands of people struggled to get to work, Du Noon residents were left standed.

Julia Lentoor, who works at Bayside Mall, 10km from Du Noon, said: “It is not fair. We don’t even know what this is all about.”

She said if she did not go to work she did not get paid. She said on Wednesday night she had walked home from work.

Western Cape police spokesperson superintendent Andre Traut said the situation around Cape Town was “calm” on Thursday. More police had been deployed in areas of the City were there had been problems on Wednesday.

He said 34 people had been arrested in the Western Cape in relation to taxi violence. Traut said the worst areas were Du Noon, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Ocean View and Delft.

Tags: dunoon taxis transport strike

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