Police forced to use tear gas as city taxi operators go on rampage

2014-06-12 00:00

HUNDREDS of taxi drivers and bosses went on the rampage through Durban’s CBD yesterday, damaging two buses, a metro police vehicle and overturning vendors’ stalls.

Some businesses on Dr Pixley ka Seme Street closed their doors as the crowd threatened to storm their establishments, but street vendors were targeted by the mob.

After handing over a memorandum at city hall, the marchers wreaked havoc, smashing a shop’s windows and clashing with police.

Five people were arrested.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the unruly crowd as their made their way back to Botha Park.

The marchers, who are part of the KZN Transport Alliance, were demanding the removal of Transport MEC Willies Mchunu and access to information with regard to eThekwini Municipality’s integrated land passenger transport plan and consultation on bus rapid transport in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and other cities.

At the city hall, the memorandum was accepted by eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo on behalf of Mchunu and Premier Senzo Mchunu.

Alliance spokesperson Bafana Mhlongo said Mchunu had failed to prepare and produce a five-year-plan on how he will regulate the public transport system as per the requirements of the nationalLand Transport Act.

The Alliance also demanded a commuter subsidy for minibuses.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said police were still trying to identify the culprits.

“The suspects will be charged for public violence and malicious damage to property. These figures may change as police are still busy in the city centre,” said Naicker.

Mhlongo said attacking businesses was not part of their plan.

“If some of our members are involved in these criminal activities, then the city must view its CCTV cameras and hunt down those involved. They must be arrested,” he said.

MEC Mchunu, in a statement, cautioned taxi operators not to be used to pursue political agendas.

“This administration has not even finished one month in office and you already have people calling on the MEC to step down.

“The logical conclusion we can reach is that, this is nothing but politicking. This also happens few weeks after the KZN Taxi Alliance dismally failed in their campaign to secure a seat in the legislature during the last national and provincial elections. We urge all taxi operators to be careful against being used to advance political agendas,” said Mchunu.

He said the issues raised in the memorandum were not new and were dealt with when the same organisation had a “violent” protest last year.

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