South Africa: Somali Leaders, Taxi Associations Called to Find Solution to Defuse Gqeberha Violence

The Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour has appealed to the Somali community leaders and taxi associations in Gqeberha to meet urgently and find a solution to defuse the reported tensions.

The call follows the burning of about eight minibus taxis allegedly by Somali shop owners at Durban Road in Korsten, Gqeberha, on Wednesday afternoon.

According to police reports, violence broke out following a motor vehicle accident between a taxi and a sedan believed to belong to a local businessman.

It is alleged that retaliation between local businessmen and taxi drivers ensued and resulted in eight taxis being set alight, two taxis damaged and a civilian vehicle set alight. No injuries were reported.

In a statement on Thursday, Committee Chairperson, Mandla Rayi, said the committee condemns any act of violence directed either at minibus taxi operators or at Somali owned spaza shops.

"The reported violence should not occur and certainly our people should not allow to be divided by these acts of violence. The leaders of the Somali community in that area and the management of minibus taxi operators should urgently meet and seek a resolution on this matter.

"The revival of the economy after it was negatively affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in March last year is the responsibility of all. Regional economies like Gqeberha are a key component and should be used as a point of strength," Rayi said.

Rayi appealed to the leaders of the Somali community, taxi associations in Gqeberha and other peace role players to find a solution to the problem, and defuse the tensions that have the potential to perpetuate violence.

"[This] is an antithesis to the call for the revival of the economy in Gqeberha," said Rayi.

Rayi said the brandishing of heavy weaponry among citizens, as reported in Gqeberha, is a matter that needs to be investigated and acted upon by relevant law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, Police Minister, General Bheki Cele and Deputy Minister of Police, Cassel Mathale, are today visiting Gqeberha following violence and wanton destruction of property.

"The Police Ministry and senior South African Police Service officials will travel to the area and receive a full report from the provincial SAPS management on this incident, as well as the spate of murders that have taken place in the Walmer township over the weekend," Police Ministry spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said.

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