Shots fired in taxi dispute

2014-02-11 00:00

TENSIONS between the community and the taxi industry at France resulted in shots being fired during a community meeting early yesterday morning.

The meeting had been called to discuss the taxi industry’s opposition to the community using private people — referred to as omalume (uncles) — to drop children at school for a fee.

About 100 community members met at the community hall at 4 am yesterday. They were preparing to meet the taxi bosses at the taxi rank when shots were fired, and they had to take cover and then run for their lives.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that they are investigating a case of attempted murder.

He said Baba Gumede, who was chairing the meeting, alleged that shots were fired at him.

“He was not injured and a case of attempted murder was opened at Alexandra Road police station. It is suspected that he was attacked as a result of a dispute between taxi owners and the vehicles taking kids to school,” said Zwane.

Mduduzi Hlongwane, a member of the community committee, said the problem started last week when some pupils were ordered by the taxi operators not to use the vehicles hired for them.

“Some parents prefer to use o malume for the pupils for different reasons. But last week, pupils were ordered not to use them as the taxi bosses alleged that they are taking their jobs,” said Hlongwane.

He said he was threatened by taxi bosses because he used his loudspeaker to call the community to the meeting.

“My children did not go to school because last week they were taken from school and dropped in town. They were left there by the taxi operators. This is not fair. We hire private cars because they take them to school and return them home,” said Skhumbuzo Hadebe.

Police were called to the scene to monitor the situation after the shooting.

It’s alleged that taxi operators have been preventing the omalume from operating in the area for some time.

An ambulance had to be called because Mimi Dladla, who attended the meeting, was allegedly assaulted and threatened by taxi bosses.

“I am bleeding, as they kicked me and passed insults while others threatened to kill me,” said Dladla.

Local councillor Bongani Dlomo told the community to select members to represent them when they meet with the taxi bosses, but the community said they don’t want individuals to be victimised by taxi bosses and preferred that everyone be present in that meeting.

Attempts to get comment from the taxi industry yesterday were unsuccessful.

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