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South Africa’s Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Monday condemned the use of violence by taxi drivers in a protest in Pretoria where drivers blocked roads and intimidated other motorists.

“I condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms, you can’t protest and raise issues by closing the roads,” he told a group of strikers.

Mbalula visited Pretoria in the afternoon after taxi drivers resorted to intimidation and threats during their strike which was prompted by the government’s decision to provide the taxi industry with over 1.1 billion rand (63 million USD) relief due to COVID-19 lockdown.Taxis embarked on this shutdown demanding 10 billion rand relief.

Mbalula said the state does not have money. “The decision to avail 1.135 billion rand to the taxi industry as relief support was not an easy one. We literally had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to reach this amount, because we believe the taxi industry deserves support as the largest mover of our people,” he said.

Mblalula pleaded with drivers to protest peacefully and to refrain from blocking the roads;however the engagement did not yield any positive results.The minister is expected to hold a meeting with the taxi industry this week to further engage on the issue.

He said taxi drivers should not prevent workers and other road users from going to work.”The shutdown is counterproductive because there is no one who’s going to win out of this.

We can’t resolve our issues by closing the roads,” he said. Thousands of workers across Gauteng were left stranded on Monday due to the taxi shutdown.

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