Maverick Citizen

TOWN UNDER FIRE

Eleven arrested in Port St Johns as taxi groups lay deadly siege to town

Eleven arrested in Port St Johns as taxi groups lay deadly siege to town
The town of Port St. Johns have been under siege by feuding taxi organisations engaging in violent gun battle.s Scores of people arrested and firearms and ammunition were seized by the police this morinng. (Photos: Supplied)

The public has been warned to stay clear of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, as well as the R61 between the town and Lusikisiki, while the police arrested 11 suspects as feuding taxi organisations laid siege to the town with heavy-calibre automatic rifles on Wednesday morning, leaving three dead and five injured and three taxis burned.

The Port St Johns municipality has issued repeat warnings since Tuesday afternoon for the public to avoid the town as a taxi feud erupted and rival taxi organisations shot at each other with automatic firearms and set vehicles alight.

Even on Wednesday morning, as schools reopened, the area was still a no-go. “We continue to plead with road users to refrain from using R61 Lusikisiki coming to Port St Johns. Also we urge people to not use the town if it’s not an emergency,” the notice from the municipality said.

The provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nomthetheleli Mene, said she was urging feuding taxi associations operating in the Lusikisiki and Port St Johns areas to work together and find amicable solutions to their ongoing disagreements.

“These are now culminating in tragic violence where lives are being lost,” she said.

Preliminary reports indicate that on Tuesday morning (16 January) members of two taxi associations started shooting at each other at the Port St Johns taxi rank. Three security officials from one Lusikisiki taxi association were killed and five from the Port St Johns taxi association were injured. 

Three vehicles were torched.

“Multidisciplinary forces are on the ground. Police will remain in the area until the situation stabilises,” Mene added. 

By mid-morning 11 men had been arrested by the police, three of them in the Umzimvubu River. 

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the suspects were detained on charges of murder, attempted murder, malicious damage to property, discharging firearms in a built-up municipal area, and public violence. They would appear in the Port St Johns Magistrates’ Court soon.

She added that 15 firearms, including pistols, AK-47s, shotguns and rifles, as well as 328 rounds of ammunition, were recovered. 

“There is a high density of police officials deployed in the area to ensure stability.” DM

Gallery

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  • Kenneth Arundel says:

    “Also we urge people to not use the town if it’s not an emergency,” the notice from the municipality said. This is what greed and avarice does when unchecked. We kill each other for a few bucks, at the drop of a hat.
    What nice humans we have become.

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    Why no charges for possession of unlicenced forearms or amunition?

    • David Smith says:

      My thought exactly. I would hope it just was not mentioned. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a strategic oversight to cover up that some are police firearms.

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