Violent taxi protesters descend on Durban city hall

2015-05-26 14:39
(Giordano Stolley, News24)

(Giordano Stolley, News24)

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WATCH: Durban taxi strikers set alight eThekwini parks lorry

2015-05-26 13:07

Durban taxi strikers set alight an eThekwini parks lorry. WATCH. WATCH

Durban - Angry minibus taxi drivers and owners descended on an exco meeting at Durban's city hall on Tuesday afternoon and intimidated a journalist snapping pictures of them.

The marchers, protesting against the city and eThekwini metro police impounding taxis, had come from the old Durban drive-in, where between 30 to 40 taxis had been impounded. It had begun at Botha Gardens mid-morning.

The protesters hurled stones at police at the drive-in, after attempting to negotiate with city officials to release the impounded taxis.

Anger

Police responded with teargas and rubber bullets. After venting their anger at police, marchers decided to leave the area, but not before hurling further objects in the direction of police.

The taxi owners and drivers, whose numbers had dwindled from a peak of around 1 000 people earlier in the day, headed towards city hall down Doctor Pixley Ka Seme Street.

While doing so, they turned over every rubbish bin they could put their hands on. A couple of water bottles were thrown at the marchers from high-rise buildings as they moved down the street, with marchers shouting "Hey wena" in response.

Police kept their distance, as shop owners and employees in surrounding buildings looked on nervously.

The march then reached city hall, and as it was about to pass the over 100-year-old building, the protesters were called back by their leadership.

'No to Comrades Marathon'

Having found a place to settle, the taxi owners and drivers began dancing and singing in the street, shouting "No to Comrades Marathon".

The majority of the marchers joined in the chant while one of the marchers told a News24 reporter on the scene: "We know why they worry about the foreigners. They have businesses there in the Congo and we must play dumb and go hungry."

A parks department lorry, positioned nearby, caught the marchers' interest. They set the refuse it was carrying on fire. The police on the scene responded quickly, putting out the flames.

The protesters then sat down in the street outside the city hall, where the city's executive committee was meeting.

Vehicles stoned

Mayor James Nxumalo informed executive committee members that the protesters were demanding to see them and that vehicles had been stoned. The meeting was adjourned for five minutes.

Concerned and panicked officials went to check on their cars parked outside. A News24 reporter present at city hall went outside to take a picture of the marchers when one of them shouted to her: ""Yay, ysishuthelani went? [Why are you taking pictures of us?]".

The man chased the News24 reporter and pushed her to the ground. Police then chased the man away. She later went back inside as city hall's doors were shut.

After the doors were closed, Nxumalo and other officials went back to the boardroom where the executive committee meeting was taking place. A small group of the marchers entered city hall and the boardroom where they addressed Nxumalo.

The mayor in turn spoke to the small group representing the protesters.

Read more on:    durban  |  transport  |  protests

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