Young man beaten during taxi strike

2017-08-16 17:18
Taxi drivers making their way to Tshwane House. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

Taxi drivers making their way to Tshwane House. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

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Pretoria - A young man has been savagely beaten, allegedly by taxi drivers who went on a rampage in Pretoria CBD on Wednesday during an illegal strike.

An eyewitness who asked not to be named said the drivers blocked off Madiba Street and assaulted school children who were taking videos with their cellphones.

"They started chasing the kids...grabbed one and beat him senselessly," said the eyewitness who saw this from her office.

She added that the victim had been lying on the ground for some time and when he started moving two men approached him and beat him again, this time with belts.

The men had exited the taxis with pangas, sticks and switchblades and initially beat the victim with their bare hands and wanted to use stones before police chased them away.

"Police and traffic officers came but didn't do anything,'' said the witness.

According to the eyewitness, concerned bystanders telephoned an ambulance service who said they could not attend to the victim because they did not have police protection.

ALSO READ: Striking taxi drivers on the rampage in Pretoria

They also telephoned police who allegedly were too scared to go to the scene.

The eyewitness said the victim lay lifeless for around 45 minutes.


(Supplied)

Tshwane Metro Police department (TMPD) spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, confirmed the incident but was unable to give an update on the status of the victim.

He said an ambulance had been arranged for him.

Other pedestrians were also assaulted and their cellphones taken away.

Journalists were intimidated and told not to take photographs.

Fines and corruption

Earlier while en route to Tshwane House to hand over a memorandum of grievances, taxi drivers turned on motorists in Tshwane, smashing cars and attacking pedestrians.

Earlier, they had blocked several roads and railway lines around Mabopane, Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve.

The protest has escalated in Bremer Street just off the Mabopane highway. Drivers armed with sticks and rocks were destroying cars in transit – huge rocks were being used to smash car windows.

Panicked motorists forced their way through the traffic in a bid to escape the chaos.

News24 witnessed a taxi being pulled over, its occupants forced out, the driver beaten while still in the driver seat and then forced to join the protest.

This eventually stopped when police arrived, but taxis continued to break road rules and intimidated all who are in their way.
 
TMPD said the protest was illegal, as drivers did not have any applications to protest.

Taxi drivers are protesting over taxi fines, taxi drivers that are arrested in relation to the fines as well as corruption as they say they must pay bribes because they don't have licenses because of the fines.

President of the democratic taxi workers union in South Africa, Lawrence Lekhoane also said they want taxi facilities.

"They are expecting us to be paying bribes, the reason they are issuing fines likes it's going out of business because they know if you don't have a driver's license, you have to pay bribes," said Lekhoane.

"So we are saying, traffic officers, your time is up."

He also said that some drivers owe up to R200 000 in fines.

The memorandum was handed over to Tshwane MMC for roads and safety Sheila Senkugube who said they would respond in two weeks.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  transport  |  protests

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