Premier asked to intervene in Mpumalanga taxi war

2015-04-20 18:48
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Mbombela - The Middelburg District Taxi Association (MDTA) has asked Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza to intervene following a taxi war that has resulted in the death of a man and the injury of a six-year-old boy.

The incidents took place in Middelburg from Friday morning until Saturday midnight following allegations that coloured taxi owners, under the Nasaret Taxi Association (NTA), were ill-treating their black counterparts, who belong to the MDTA.

On Monday, MDTA members and Extension 24 residents delivered a memorandum at the provincial government complex in Mbombela, asking Mabuza to intervene.

“We just want intervention from the government and the police to do their job instead of taking sides. We are asking them to also make sure that calm is brought within the community and that police who were involved in the Friday shooting should be arrested. We can’t afford to be killing each other,” MDTA deputy chairperson Sindi Khumalo told a News24 correspondent.

Community member Senzo Mahlangu said the taxi war had gotten out of hand.

“Two people were shot because the Steve Tshwete local municipality is taking sides in the matter of routes. We are seeking the premier's intervention because the community on February 24 sent a memorandum asking the municipality to stop their unfair behaviour of giving authority to the Nasaret Taxi Association to service the community of Extension 24,” said Mahlangu.

Mahlangu said police were also aligned to NTA, making it difficult for peace to prevail in the Middelburg taxi war, which broke out three months ago.

'We can't allow coloureds to transport us'

The community members said police were siding with MDTA because the members of the association were not allowed to ferry passengers into suburbs around Middelburg, while NTA was freely doing business in townships.

“We do not want Nasaret, we want MDTA which is owned by the blacks from the townships because they care more about us. We cannot allow the coloureds who call us stinking kaffirs to transport us.

“They don't drop us at our working places, but drop us in town and we have to walk or take taxis again. When we asked the police to intervene and become mediators, they started shooting at us. What makes us angry is that live ammunition was used,” said MDTA.

Mahlangu said the community members were also angered that some of their children could not attend schools in the suburbs because NTA members were blocking the road.

“We also heard unconfirmed reports that a teacher was shot,” said Mahlangu.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala could only confirm the death of one person in the Friday shooting incident.

“What we got is that the community brought a dead man to the police station in Middelburg and claimed he had been killed by the police. We then sent the case to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) which deals with cases involving members of the police,” Mohlala said.

Mohlala added that 21 people were arrested during the unrest on Friday.

“They will appear in court this week on charges of public violence,” he said.

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed that they are investigating the death of an elderly man who was killed on Friday.

“I can confirm that the IPID will investigate one case of death as a result of police action. No other death or shooting  has been reported to the IPID. We encourage the public to report to the IPID any shooting or death involving the police.” said Dlamini.

NTA chairperson Emily Clements could not be reached for comment on her cellphone as it was switched off.

Provincial education department spokesperson Gerald Sambo was also not available on his cellphone, which rang unanswered.

Tshwete local municipality spokesperson Prudence Magabutle could also not be reached for comment as her phone was switched off.

Read more on:    david mabuza  |  mbombela  |  taxi violence  |  crime

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