Police visibility will be significantly increased in Gqeberha in the wake of public violence and the destruction of property that saw several businesses and taxis torched this week.
The announcement was made by Police Minister Bheki Cele during a visit to the city on Thursday.
Cele, who was accompanied by Police Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, met with local business and taxi operators during the visit.
On Wednesday, violence broke out on Durban Road in Korsten after a motor vehicle accident between a taxi and a sedan allegedly belonging to a local businessman.
Initial investigations revealed that the single incident led to the torching of several vehicles and property.
According to police reports, alleged retaliation between the local businessmen and taxi drivers ensued resulting in eight taxis being set alight, two taxis were damaged and a civilian vehicle was also set alight. No injuries were reported,
Addressing the media shortly after inspecting the extent of the damage and meeting affected parties, Cele said beyond the increase in police visibility, investigations would probe why the situation escalated to the point of violence.
“There was crime committed here; property was destroyed, there was arson, there were cars and taxis burned.”
Citing the Firearms Act, the Minister said the investigation would look to bring to book those who discharged their guns.
“Private citizens are not allowed to go around displaying or firing firearms. They [guns[ will be taken in for ballistics and their owners will have to explain why they utilised the firearm in public.
Durban Street, he said, was allegedly notorious in many ways.
“Police will have to clean it,” Cele said.
“Police will have to find everyone that committed crime. Secondly, the police will have to search and find those guns that were fired here. People will come here and clean the streets. Only legal business needs to be conducted here,” he said.
Police, he said, would remain in the area until peace had been restored.
“The one thing that we said and agreed on in the meeting was that when we come back, we will have to come with SARS Customs and the Department of Home Affairs to ensure that everyone who is here has the papers to be in the country and run a business.
“Everyone making business in South Africa pays tax, you can’t go to a country, run a business and not pay taxes. We agreed on that,” he said.
“We are encouraging businesses that are closed to reopen so that livelihoods that were affected can come back and they stick within the law. If they don’t, police have the responsibility to enforce the law.”