Public warned against sharing videos inciting violence as protests bring Mthatha to a standstill

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Eastern Cape Transport and Community Safety MEC Xolile Nqatha has warned the public that the State will deal decisively with any fear mongers responsible for voice notes and videos calling for a shutdown on social media.

This comes as voice notes and videos were shared on social media seeking to intimidate, incite violence and threaten people’s democratic right to participate in the upcoming elections.

Taxi drivers apparently hijacked trucks and used them to block both sides of the N2 and R61 roads around Mthatha on Monday. Police at midday today said many roads were still closed. Freight trucks were looted and at least one set alight, and the airport was closed down.

The taxi operators’ actions were because of a crackdown by authorities following an outbreak of violence last week. Police had confiscated 38 pistols and five rifles from a group of people belonging to a taxi organisation who gathered at the Nelson Mandela Hospital in Mthatha. This came after a shootout between taxi factions in Maclear that saw three taxi operators killed last week. Security guards were at the hospital to guard the wounded taxi drivers when they their weapons were seized, SABC reported.

Nqatha said the shutdown calls are selfish, immature and irresponsible actions that seek to undermine the rule of law in the province, and in Mthatha in particular.

“The most recent of these social media posts is a brazen video recording by a man, allegedly who calls for a complete shutdown of Mthatha; a stop of elections campaigns in and around Mthatha, less than 48 hours before the elections. The call comes after the police confiscated pistols and assault rifles following the resurgence of taxi violence in the Mthatha, Tsolo and Maclear areas,” SANews reported on Monday.

Nqatha said his department is working closely with the police to end the taxi violence in the province.

Eastern Cape department of transport and community safety spokesperson, Unathi Binqose, said law enforcement was “getting reinforcement from the SANDF to try to bring the situation back to normality. Unfortunately, it has affected a lot of things, including schools and airports — just about everything.” It is not clear if the SANDF has been deployed or has just been requested to assist.