Taxi feud escalates after ‘legal’ driver allegedly assaulted

2016-06-29 06:00
Taxi drivers operating in  Copesville and Ezinketheni downed tools this week after a driver was assaulted by illegal operators.      PHOTO: THABANG MATHEBULA

Taxi drivers operating in Copesville and Ezinketheni downed tools this week after a driver was assaulted by illegal operators. PHOTO: THABANG MATHEBULA

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THE taxi feud between the so- called “illegal” and “legal” operators in Copesville and Ezinketheni reached boiling point this week.

This follows after a legal taxi driver was allegedly assaulted on Monday morning by a group of illegal­ operators at the Asmalls taxi rank in Pietermaritzburg.

The incident triggered a protest by taxi drivers who refused to return to work saying they felt intimated by the incident.

The drivers vowed to put brakes on operating until their safety is assured.

Mountain Rise police spokesperson, Captain Gay Ebrahim, said negotiations­ were under way and the parties were expected to meet with police today.

It is believed the driver who was allegedly assaulted approached the illegal driver, who was loading his taxi with commuters, and asked him to stop loading passengers because he was not permitted to do so.

According to the driver, who asked to remain unnamed as he said he fears for his life, the illegal driver then reported the incident to his boss, who in turn brought with him a “squad” of other taxi operators and started attacking the legal driver.

“We agreed as drivers to withdraw operating until our safety is assured. We asked our bosses to hire a private security company to guard us while we operate, especially in the Ezinketheni area.

“This has been going on for far too long now. We fear for our lives and we need security to feel safe.

“Our drivers can be shot anytime there,” said the driver.

Following the alleged assault, outraged drivers swarmed to the Copesville taxi rank after midday hoping to iron out the matter with taxi bosses and local taxi association. But taxi association members left the scene apparently for an urgent meeting where the incident was to be discussed.

Taxi bosses are also terrified to voice their concern or be named in the media.

One taxi boss said: “People died while trying to resolve this matter and others had their houses and cars set alight for voicing their concerns about the on-going illegal taxis.

“Exposing your name would be applying for death.”

A taxi association chairperson in the area, Mandla Dube, said the incident was reported to the police.

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