Anti-toll protest continues...

By Drum Digital
06 December 2012

Cosatu vowed to finish its anti-toll "drive-slow" on highways around Johannesburg as scheduled on Thursday, its Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said.

Dakile said it had negotiated with the police to extend the march by three hours, because it started late.

Asked about the impact on rush hour commuters he said: "In Gauteng, there is no rush hour. Every time is a rush hour."

With people in the stop-start convoy shouting "Viva!" around him, Dakile said he was "more than happy" with the turnout.

"We are not looking at the question of quantity, we are looking at the message that is being sent."

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) led anti-toll protest resulted in traffic congestion on highways around the city on Thursday afternoon with a cacophony of hooting and shouts of support from people on bridges and at the sides of the highway.

Protesters left early in two groups -- one from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni and one from Braamfontein in Johannesburg -- in an attempt to convince the government to scrap plans to toll the highways because it was unaffordable.

By mid afternoon, Jabulani Mcube, a Communication Workers' Union (CWU) member said: "We're highly tired. Exhausted." He was determined to finish the "drive slow".

Fellow CWU member Sipho Litabe said: "It's a bit tiring, but it's for a good cause. Let's hope government will listen to our pleas."

Another participant, who gave her name only as Tiisetso from the SA Music Rights' Organisation, said: "I'm against e-tolls because they're against me."

She said she used to work for the "e-tolls company" but had left. She claimed it used only contract workers and labour brokers.

Roadside workers and people in shops and offices stopped their business to watch the spectacle, which was massively marshalled by police officials.

For the Katlehong leg of the march, only one lane of the four usually filled with cars was open for the protest, which involved around 50 vehicles spanning about a kilometre.

Periodically, everybody stopped their cars and hooted, and got out and danced on the road, only to be hustled back into their vehicles by the police.

They eventually stopped later at a garage on the R21 highway just before Olifantsfontein for a long overdue toilet break -- the first on that route.

That group decided to speed up to 50km/h and not go to Nelmapius near, Centurion, as it was running out of time. The protest was to have dispersed by 3.30pm.

"It was [effective]. We are happy with today," said Cosatu provincial chairman Phutas Tseki.

He was also happy that "both black and white" were supporting the protest and he thanked everyone for participating.

One participant, Lionel Kekana, was briefly detained after arguing with the police about allegedly obstructing their work.

"It was nothing serious. We just argued with the cops. I'm very happy to be out. There's no air in that van," said the bemused 28-year-old Kekana.

Another person was believed to have been injured after being hit by a car, but more information was still being obtained about this, said Tseki.

Further afield, the other procession reached the N1 south. It would then, at the Diepkloof Interchange, move onto the M1 north to the Crown Interchange, then onto the M2 east and wend its way back into the city.

Last week, Cosatu officials said they would take down the gantries to show their opposition to tolls, but have since said they will not.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance has brought a court application to have the e-toll project scrapped, but a ruling has yet to be made.

-by Sapa

Find Love!