CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Five people have been killed in the South African city of Cape Town as a strike by mini-bus taxi drivers that began last week turned violent, authorities said on Tuesday.
The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) announced a one-week provincial shutdown last Thursday after failing to resolve various issues with the local government in Cape Town.
The grievances arose after a new municipal law gave local authorities the power to impound vehicles for violations such as driving without a licence, or registration plates.
Sporadic violence erupted in different parts of the city after police began impounding vehicles last week, as angry protesters torched buses and cars and pelted the police with stones.
Among the dead was a 40-year old British national, who was shot and killed on Thursday, South African police minister Bheki Cele said in a media briefing on Tuesday, adding the murders and the violence were being investigated.
He said 120 suspects had been arrested since Thursday for damaging property, looting and public violence.
The office of the City of Cape Town said the strike had severely affected people commuting to work and at times left them stranded due to attacks on public transportation services.
“In Cape Town, violence will never be tolerated as a negotiating tactic. We reiterate our call on SANTACO to return peacefully to the negotiation table,” said Cape Town city mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
SANTACO has distanced itself from the violence and said such acts were fuelled by protesters, not its members.
(Reporting by Esa Alexander in Cape Town and Catherine Schenck in Johannesburg; Additional reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Mark Potter)