The port and tourist city of Cape Town has been paralysed for several days by a collective taxi strike, which has taken a violent turn in South Africa's largest city with three deaths reported, the police announced on Monday.
Thousands of commuters were stranded after a work stoppage on Thursday by drivers of minibuses, the main means of transport for millions of working-class South Africans, who are blocking many roads.
On Monday, on the road to the airport, "one person was shot and three others injured" after throwing stones at a motorist, the police said.
The authorities then said that another body, that of a 28-year-old man who had died from several gunshot wounds in an attack "presumed to be linked to taxis", had been found nearby.
On Friday evening, a policeman was shot dead while on patrol some twenty kilometres from Cape Town.
Here again, "we cannot rule out the possibility that this attack was linked to the ongoing taxi strike", commented the police, as officers were "patrolling (...) to contain incidents linked" to the strike.
The airport road, which had been regularly disrupted and blocked the previous night, was finally cleared on Monday afternoon.
The British Embassy in South Africa posted a notice on Facebook last weekend advising travellers to delay their journeys "to and from the airport until the route has been cleared".
Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille told AFP on Monday that she was discussing the taxi strike with the Premier of Cape Town Province "in the light of the note sent by the British authorities", with a view to finding a rapid solution.
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) had called a walkout last week to protest against a new regulation that gives the Cape Town municipality the power to seize vehicles for offences such as driving without a licence, failing to display number plates and overloading.
The situation escalated after 15 minibuses were seized on Tuesday.
Santaco said on Monday that 6,000 vehicles had been seized since the start of the year and that, faced with this situation, it had "no other option" than to call a strike."It is clear that there has been a degree of premeditation in the actions we have witnessed over the last few days.
There have also been clear attempts to target the city's staff and infrastructure", commented the local authorities in their statement.
"It is clear that there has been a degree of premeditation in the actions we have witnessed in recent days. There have also been clear attempts to target city staff and infrastructure", commented the local authorities in their statement on Monday.
Numerous buses and municipal vehicles have been set on fire, private vehicles have been the target of stone-throwing and gunfire, and clinics have had to close or reduce their capacity because of the chaos.
Shops were looted, according to the police, who announced the arrest of five suspected looters. Following the failure of weekend negotiations with Santaco, it announced that the work stoppage would continue until Wednesday.