City taxi feud escalates after ‘legal’ driver assaulted

2016-06-21 10:13
Taxi drivers operating in Copesville and Ezinketheni downed tools after a driver was assaulted by illegal operators.

Taxi drivers operating in Copesville and Ezinketheni downed tools after a driver was assaulted by illegal operators. (Thabang Mathebula, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The taxi feud between the so called “illegal” and “legal” operators in Copesville and Ezinketheni reached boiling point on Monday.

This follows a legal taxi driver allegedly being assaulted yesterday 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 underway and the parties were expected to meet with police today.

It is believed the driver who was assaulted approached the illegal driver, who was loading his taxi with commuters, and asked him to refrain from loading up with 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 return, 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 assault, outraged drivers swarmed to Copseville taxi rank after midday hoping to iron out the matter with the taxi bosses and local taxi association. But members of the taxi association left the scene apparently for an urgent meeting where the incident was set to be discussed.

Meanwhile, taxi bosses are also terrified to voice their concerns or be named in the media. Speaking to The Witness, 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.”

Taxi Association chairperson in the area Mandla Dube said the incident was reported to the police.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  assault  |  protest  |  taxi

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