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The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, is shown in this file photo. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/BONILE BAM
The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, is shown in this file photo. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/BONILE BAM

It is business as usual in Pretoria and Johannesburg, where law enforcement agencies have deployed boots on the ground to monitor any possible flare-ups related to the threatened national shutdown.

Passengers were commuting to work and petrol stations operating normally in Pretoria. Tshwane’s metro police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said no incidents had been reported.

“TMPD and other law enforcement agencies have deployed for any eventualities. At this stage we did not spot or receive any complaint of people embarking on a protest in the City of Tshwane,” he said.

Calls for protests initially came from unsigned petitions on social media with demands for government intervention to reduce the petrol price.

Taxi organisations, including Santaco, while urging government intervention to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices on their industry, distanced themselves from the shutdown calls, as has major labour federation Cosatu.

“The federation and its affiliated unions will not be part of that stayaway. We also discourage our members from joining this stayaway because it is an unprotected action that can result in their dismissal from work,” Cosatu said on the eve of the threatened protest.

Johannesburg metro police department spokesperson Xolani Fihla said the metro was also incident-free.

“So far there is nothing that has been reported. We know there was a possible threat that public transport would not be operating, but I can confirm that public transport is operating and there are no disturbances on that side,” he said.

The government's National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints), which co-ordinates law enforcement operations, said on Thursday it would curb any criminality if Friday’s rumoured national shutdown went ahead.

Fihla said their officers were patrolling around the city.

“Our plans are in accordance with the operations guided by the office of the provincial commissioner and the main focus is the high police visibility, which is a deterrent for any possible threat. JMPD officers will be patrolling malls and shopping centres within the city and also monitoring for any disturbance on major roads.”

Stemmer Monageng, chair of the Mamelodi local and long-distance taxi association (MALLDTA), said they were conducting business as usual.

Discussions were being held with the government to mitigate the high fuel prices, he said.

“We haven’t reached the stage of doing a shutdown. We are still negotiating with the government. We are still going to engage everybody, including Cosatu — we haven’t deadlocked anybody. We are conducting our business as usual.

“People are taking things from the [negotiating] table when it’s not finalised and making it seem as if it's finalised, but we are not yet there.

“But if we are not going to be listened to, it’s coming [protest action].”

The industry was badly affected by fuel costs and commuters were already battling the high cost of living.

“It is impacting very badly because now we are in a situation where we must consider the issue of increasing taxi fares, but we're in a position where we find it difficult because companies haven’t given people extra money for transport. So we are asking ourselves, where will they get those monies? That is why we are sitting behind closed doors discussing those situations,” he said.

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