Taxi operators in the Vaal Triangle have suspended their strike for Thursday only to honour and celebrate those who died and others left injured on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville.
On Wednesday, routes leading in and out of the Vaal were blockaded with various objects including burning tyres and trucks. People were prevented from entering and leaving the place.
Twelve taxi operators affiliated to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) demanded the completion of a taxi rank that has been standing for six years and their local municipality to fix pot holes mushrooming all over the streets of the Vaal.
Santaco regional spokesperson Mbuyiseni Mahlangu said they are respecting Human Rights Day but will continue with the strike on Friday.
Mahlangu said they have met with some of the provincial leadership and they acknowledged that they were fighting for a good cause.
He continued that they were waiting for Gauteng Premier David Makhura to come and address them. If he failed to do so, the Vaal would resume its lockdown from Friday onward.
"We are human beings. Human Rights Day is an important day for us as residents of the Vaal. We are respecting this day and remembering those who died and [got] injured on March 21 1960.
"However, we have our members who were arrested for nothing and we are pleading with government to release them. All we are demanding as taxi operators is for government to treat us fairly as South Africans. Our members didn't damage any property.
"Some of our arrested members were assaulted by Amaberethe (Tactical Response Team) during their arrests. Some of our taxis were damaged by Amaberethe," he said.
Mahlangu claimed that none of their members were guilty of any wrong doing as police had claimed.
"We have witnessed some people who are not involved in the taxi industry damaging properties and we reprimanded them. We need infrastructure to operate smoothly and can't allow our members to damage the same infrastructure that we are fighting for," he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, police arrested more than 50 taxi operators for allegedly barricading roads and pelting motor vehicles with stones.
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said the situation remains calm and promised that police would continue patrolling the Vaal.
Masondo said the arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon on charges of public violence. He encouraged taxi operators who claimed to have been allegedly assaulted by police, as well as those whom their vehicles were allegedly damaged by police to open cases.