Durban taxi drivers go on rampage

2015-05-26 11:29
(Giordano Stolley, News24)

(Giordano Stolley, News24)

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Durban - A strike by taxi drivers in Durban on Tuesday turned violent as drivers protested against Ethekwini metro municipality impounding their vehicles.

The march, which began in Botha Gardens and was directed to Warwick triangle, saw drivers dump concrete bins, slaughter goats, and burning tyres on the road. Police were following the march at a distance.

A News24 reporter on the scene saw a group of drivers chase a woman who filmed the march on her cellphone. The journalist was warned by drivers to not film them.

As the crowd, numbering around 1000 people, marched down Old Ford Road, an Isolezwe newspaper vendor cycled frantically away from the drivers in a bid to get away.

One man, carrying a green Sprite bottle, was pouring petrol on rubbish and setting it alight.

The marchers reached the municipal bus department on Old Fort Road. They sought to tear the gate down and threw rocks and stones at buildings within the depot. While protesters were at the depot, there was a noticeable lack of police in the vicinity.

The taxi drivers then stole a ladder from a man who was working on an overhang, leaving him stranded.

Shops closed

On Johannes Nkosi Road, shops had their shutters closed. Police then arrived, where a policeman was seen firing off a shot, as the situation became very tense.

Police sought to calm the situation down, as the march turned towards metro police's main office.

The march then turned down Masabalala Yengwa Avenue, appearing to move in the direction of the old Durban drive-in, where around 30 to 40 taxis were impounded.

One man running in the opposite direction of the march was stopped, tripped and struck by the drivers. He was then forced to join the marchers.

Another man then hopped over a fence where there were a pile of logs and handed them through the palisades to marchers who were not armed.

As the march approached the impound location, police still kept their distance. Taxi drivers, passing a BMW dealership, encouraged security guards to join them.

eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo on Tuesday confirmed that hundreds of commuters had been affected by the taxi strike.

Nxumalo told executive committee members that he received an SMS last night reporting that there was a looming strike.

‘Uncontrollable’

eThekwini city manager Sbu Sithole said the city had received information that commuters had been badly affected.

"I have been told that people are being attacked on our busses," he said.

"At the moment we speculate that the strike relates to law enforcement issues involving permits. We understand that vehicles have been impounded because they do not have permits.

"The situation is uncontrollable and we have asked for an urgent meeting with the stakeholders. We will be meeting with the industry because they did not inform us that they would be striking. We also need to urgently intervene before it gets out of hand," Sithole said.

Nxumalo said, "All we know is that taxis are not allowed to operate in the CBD. We met briefly last night but issues were not raised."

Read more on:    durban  |  transport  |  protests

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