Taxi operators return to Pretoria CBD to 'clean up mess of drug dealers'

Police clashed with a small group of taxi operators who again took to the streets to flush out "drug dealers" in the Pretoria CBD on Tuesday.

Rubber bullets were fired and tear gas used as taxi operators attempted to block roads near the Bloedstreet Mall.

Police then had a meeting with the taxi drivers, asking them to leave the area and allow law enforcement to investigate their claims of drug dealing in the area.

READ: Taxi drivers, 'drug dealers' and looting: Pretoria CBD's day of chaos

While taxi drivers were reluctant to accede to the request, they eventually left the area, with police in the CBD staying on high alert.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a number of taxi drivers told News24 they were not there to protest, but to clean up "the mess" that law enforcement had created by not policing the streets.

"We wanted to clean up the mess of drug dealers. We want to destroy the suppliers, but the police came and shot us," one taxi driver said.

"We are innocent people. We are not here to vandalise," he added.

Another taxi operator said they had a specific problem with some foreign nationals who they claimed were selling drugs to young people. He said the police had either been complicit in the drug trade, or just didn't care to battle it upfront.

"We are here 24/7, we see the police taking bribes from the drug dealers," the taxi driver claimed.

The unrest started in the Pretoria CBD last week, when foreign-owned shops were looted and burned by mobs on a mission to rid the city of the alleged drug dealers.

READ MORE: Protesters loot Joburg shops as cops rally to quell unrest across parts of Gauteng

It was sparked after a taxi driver was allegedly shot and killed last Tuesday when he confronted dealers and police allegedly involved in selling drugs, News24 previously reported.

Taxi operators have since distanced themselves from the looting, saying that criminal elements hijacked their protest as an opportunity to loot.

Taxi operators also tried to block several roads in the CBD on Monday.

A number of people were arrested and the roads were cleared.

Rioting and looting has since spread to Johannesburg and Ekhurleni for various other reasons.

Police and residents clashed throughout Monday after dozens of shops - most owned by foreign residents -  were looted in Jeppestown, Malvern, Turffontein, Troyeville and surrounding areas.

News24 also reported that a man was shot and killed during the running battles. It was reported that the shots were fired by people in the rioting crowd.

On Tuesday morning the looting spread to Alexandra where a number of shops were also looted.

Over 100 people have been arrested in connection with the violence since Monday.

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