Demand for taxi boss to step down

2017-05-17 06:01
PHOTO: nokuthula khanyilePolice monitor the protest in Azalea.

PHOTO: nokuthula khanyilePolice monitor the protest in Azalea.

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COMMUTERS in Azalea and Imbali Unit 18 were stranded and frustrated on Monday forcing them to find alternative transport to get to work and school after taxi operations in the area were halted.

Community members embarked on protest action demanding the removal of Dumisani Zungu as chairperson of the Azalea and Unit 18 Taxi Association.

Irate community members barricaded all entrances to the areas with rubble and burning tyres carrying placards calling for Zungu to go.

A community member who spoke to Maritzburg Echo said they want Zungu to step down as chairperson and stop his taxis from operating in the area.

“We have been discussing this problem since 2002 and enough is enough. Zungu lives in Pinetown and he is chairman of the Azalea Taxi Association, which does not make any sense. We only want taxis owned by people who live in Azalea and Unit 18 to operate in the area. He does not even attend community meetings.

“The association he heads does not even have an office in the area. Where are we supposed to go and address our grievances as the community?”

Another community member said Zungu has been chairperson since 1989 and runs the association like a dictator.

“There are taxis in the area that operate without permits.

The person said that some don’t have vehicle licences but they are allowed to carry community members.

“Community members who have bought vehicles in the area that are in good working condition are not granted operating permits by the association because they want their friends to operate in the area.”

Community members say out of all the members of the association only five are from Azalea or Unit 18.

“We are unhappy. We had a community meeting before the Easter holidays and asked for him to be present so we could table our issues, but he was not there.

“Other committee members told us he did not attend because the situation was still tense. The association then asked for three weeks to resolve the matter.”

Community members said last Monday another community meeting was held and a resolution to halt the operation of Zungu’s taxis in the area was taken.

“At that meeting unknown gunmen emerged and opened fire at those in attendance. One person was injured and is in hospital. We know the people who sent those gunmen to try and kill us.”

Community members said last Friday they received a fraudulent letter stating Zungu had resigned.

“That letter was fake; it had no signature of any of the association members or a stamp, and we rejected it. They told us we would receive another official letter the following day, but on Saturday we were alerted that Zungu had disappeared and none of the association members could get hold of him. Until he hands in that resignation, no taxi will operate in the area.”

Zungu declined to comment and referred all queries to Santaco regional chairperson Bheki Sokhela.

Sokhela said they were trying to resolve the feud between community members and the local association.

“We are aware of the problem in that area and are working at coming up with solutions to resolve it.

“We are going to meet with the community and the association to discuss a way forward.”

Sokhela, however, said that community members had no right to dictate who the association should elect as chairperson.

“Unfortunately, community members don’t have a say in the election of the chairperson, the onus is on the local association members to choose a chairperson as they see fit. Certain community members are fuelling the tension for their own agendas,” he said.

Four people were arrested during the protest and appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

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