Taxi drivers assaulted

2011-06-29 00:00

“TAXI owners may be scared of them, but we drivers are not scared and are ready to take them head on.”

This is one of the threats that might lead to blood being spilled in Pietermaritzburg’s taxi industry following numerous attacks on taxi drivers of the Zwartkop Taxi Association, whose vehicles operate between the CBD and Sweetwaters.

The drivers made the threats during their day-long go-slow at Dales Park, where they parked about 50 of their taxis.

Sweetwaters commuters were left stranded.

The taxi drivers, whose terminus is in East Street, allege that they have been intimidated by their counterparts of the Oribi Taxi Association over a route to the Wembley area.

Some allege that between Monday and yesterday their minibus taxis were jammed and they were punched and threatened with knobkerries and firearms.

“I had a knobkerrie pushed against my face and I was punched yesterday,” said a driver.

Two drivers were allegedly assaulted yesterday.

Another said, “They gave us a last warning not to take people who are commuting to Wembley area. This is our area because it is on our route. These guys’ taxis are operating in the Oribi area, but they also claim Wembley, which is far away from their Oribi route.”

One driver was seen carrying a bush knife, while others were threatening to come to work armed with their firearms today.

It is believed that the feud has led to shots being fired in Victoria Street as drivers were moving to Dales Park to gather there.

There they toyi-toyied, sang struggle songs and yelled profanities at their opponents.

A large contingent of police officers were on hand to keep an eye on the situation.

A Zwartkops association driver said the attackers’ vehicles are using the new taxi rank on Langalibalele Street.

The drivers declined to give their names.

“I cannot have my name printed in your paper because these people might catch me without my colleagues present,” said one.

“They stopped my vehicle on Sweetwaters Road at about 6.40 am and they pushed me with their knobkerries. I had my knife, but I could not use it because there were too many of them.”

Zwartkop Taxi Association chairperson Phendulani Ndlovu confirmed that some commuters were left stranded as a result of the incident.

“But we are negotiating with the Oribi taxi owners to try to resolve the problem,” said Ndlovu.

A senior police officer at the scene said a case of assault was opened yesterday.

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