Protesters block Willowfountainroads in taxi row

2011-07-21 00:00

IRATE community members in the Willowfountain area yesterday blockaded the road to protest against a taxi operator who is allegedly involved in crime in the area.

By 11 am yesterday the blockade had stopped all taxis from Willowfountain. Commuters who left for work early in the morning had to rely on buses for transport.

Later in the morning taxis from nearby Imbali had to be deployed in the area to pick up commuters.

Burning tyres on the side of the road shrouded the early morning scene in acrid smoke. Taxi drivers and conductors stood idle at their ranks while police cars monitored the situation.

Commuters and community members, who did not want to be named, said the situation exploded in the morning when allegations surfaced that one of the taxi operators was funding his taxi business by stealing livestock from the community.

Taxi operators and community members held an emergency meeting. Although none of them would say what had transpired, they declared that the matter had been resolved.

Said a taxi operator who had attended the meeting, “This is a very sensitive matter with serious legal implications. We as the taxi operators would not feel comfortable in discussing it.”

Local councillor Sbu Mkhize said, “We agreed not to release any information to the media.”

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane confirmed there had been a protest and said no violent incidents had been reported.

“The police monitored the situation and the community dispersed peacefully and no incidents have been reported.”

He said a police investigation found that community members were protesting against a taxi operator who was apparently funding his business through stocktheft.

Zwane said no complaint about the matter has reached the police.

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