People who burnt taxis, brandished weapons in Gqeberha must be arrested - Cele

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  • Police Minister Bheki Cele has called for the arrests of all those who participated in the violent clashes in Gqeberha.
  • Eight minibus taxis were set alight, while two others and a private vehicle were damaged during the fracas.
  • Businessmen clashed with taxi operators after an accident between a driver and a local businessman.

"The law was broken here. Properties were destroyed."

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Thursday called for those responsible for the violence in Gqeberha to be brought to book.

"There were guns and firearms that were brandished here. Some of those weapons were fired. The law was broken here. Properties were destroyed, there was arson, minibus taxis and shops were burnt. There are few things that police will have to follow," he said during a visit to the area on Thursday.

"Police will have to find all those who committed arson and destruction of properties."

On Wednesday, vehicles and properties were ablaze after a group of businessmen clashed with taxi operators.It is alleged that violence was triggered following a motor vehicle accident between a taxi and a sedan belonging to a local businessman.The accident then led to the torching of eight taxis. Two other taxis and a sedan were damaged, including some shops.

READ | Chaos in Gqeberha as several minibus taxis, 2 cars set alight

During his visit, Cele engaged with the Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Taxi Council and members of the business and Somali communities in a bid to quell tensions.

Weapons

Cele said his officers would have to find those who brandished weapons while minibus taxis were in flames.

"Police will have to find those guns that were fired. We are told that Durban Street in Gqeberha is notorious in many ways, with people misbehaving and doing all illegal things. We will be flooding the police to come and clean this street.

"Beyond that, we will be increasing the capacity of the police in this street," he said.

Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said that police had recovered three firearms, and that they had been taken for ballistics testing

Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Taxi Council secretary-general Andile Andries told News24 that their meeting with local businessmen and the Somali community had been "fruitful".

"In our view, we saw that this fight had the potential to spread rapidly and affect the country as a whole, hence we decided to act swiftly," Andries said.

READ | 'Disingenuous': Cele blasts Western Cape government for 'lying' about cops not doing their jobs

"We won't point any fingers on who was wrong however, the law should take its course."

He further thanked Cele for his intervention in trying to find an amicable solution. 

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said no one had been arrested. Naidu said they are investigating a case of public violence.

“We can’t rule out if more cases would be opened. Police leadership in the province have intensified police visibility. At the moment, the situation is calm," Naidu said.

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