We will deploy army to Mamelodi if necessary: Gauteng premier

Pretoria - If need be, the army will be deployed to violence-hit Mamelodi, where minibus taxi operators have been protesting about a new bus service, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said on Sunday.

Operation Fiela, involving several government agencies including the police, metro police and Department of Home Affairs, has already started in Mamelodi as government pushes to restore order and stability in the township outside Pretoria, he said.

“We have brought in operation Fiela to clean up the township,” Makhura told residents at a public meeting.

“We were elected by you through ballots, not bullets. We will not be intimidated by those with guns.”

'We are going to protect our people'

Makhura was speaking to residents following days of violence as taxi owners opposed the operation of Autopax buses in the area. On Friday, a bus was shot at, leaving five people in hospitalised. At least seven buses have been damaged in the protests.

Makhura said they would increase police presence in the area.

“We will even bring the army if need be. We are going to protect our people. They [army] will be in the area to ensure that even a person who goes to work at 1am feels safe,” he said.

Asked to clarify if the army had already been brought in, an official told a News24 correspondent he could not confirm that. There was no sign of soldiers in uniform in the township in Sunday.

Makhura maintained that they are a peace loving government but warned that gun-wielding thugs would not be allowed to dictate the type of transport commuters must use.

“We are a peaceful government but attack the community then you will see us in action, we will react. Commuters must be able to choose their own mode of transport based on their own circumstances,” he said.


'Violence will not resolve anything'

Executive Mayor of Tshwane Kgosietso Ramokgopa called on taxi owners and the community to work with government to bring stability to the area. Ramokgopa said violence was not the way to bring order.

“Violence will not resolve anything. It will actually cause divisions between residents and taxi bosses,” said Ramokgopa.

Sizwe Mthiyane from the Congress of South African Students said taxi bosses must refrain from intimidation and warned should they continue, they would ensure taxis don't operate.