- In an attempt to ease killings in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, police minister Bheki Cele has shut down major taxi routes in the area
- More than 60 people have died in taxi-related violence since 2016
- Cele closed the R61 and N2 junction routes indefinitely after all previous attempts to broker peace have failed
The new police minister, Bheki Cele is known as a man of action and has built a reputation for effective if sometimes controversial acts.
Cele’s latest act is likely to earn him the ire of taxi operators in the Mthatha area. Cele announced the immediate and indefinite closure of major taxi routes in the area.
Cele announced the R61 and N2 junction routes to Maclear and Tsolo would be closed until further notice. Cele said his decision came after all previous attempts to broker peace between various stakeholders in the taxi industry have failed.
Briefly.co.za gathered that more than 60 people have died in taxi-related violence since 2016. "The selfishness of the taxi industry must be cut to zero‚ we cannot continue to count dead bodies like a taxi load‚" said Cele.
A fiery Cele announced the closures by telling taxi operators that they were not funeral parlours.
He said the routes belonged to the citizens of the region and taxi bosses and operators should not be allowed to manipulate these routes for their own financial gain.
Previous attempts to broker peace between all stakeholders included the signing of a peace accord which was facilitated by the Eastern Cape provincial government. The police ministry said Cele had made the decision after all previous attempts at peace failed.
Cele said although this was not the first time the national government had closed these routes, they would not reopen until there was absolute compliance with the peace accord. He said the hand of government would be felt in the region.
"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. In fact‚ the taxi business can rather go down to its knees instead of masquerading as a funeral parlour‚" said Minister Cele.
Cele said police investigations into determining the mastermind’s behind the ongoing taxi war were at an advanced stage. He said during meetings with rival taxi operators no-one was willing to take responsibility and the meeting devolved into a blame game.
Cele said he was willing to meet with taxi operators ‘once they had sobered up’.
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