Johannesburg - Metered taxi and Uber owners must find a way of working together to end the bloodshed and economic sabotage.
This is what Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said as Johannesburg Metro Police braced themselves for a march by disgruntled metered taxi owners on Thursday.
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"As Meter Taxi owners march in demand of their economic freedom, they must do so within the ambits of the law. We are hopeful that what we saw previously will not be repeated as it violated other people’s rights to move freely and attempted to cause economic standstill,'' he said in a statement.
Traveller24 reported earlier that the Gauteng Metered Taxi Operators Committee (GMTCO) notified the management of Gautrain that it would be marching to the company's offices in Midrand on Thursday morning.
However, Metro Police spokesperson Edna Mamonyane said no permission had been granted for the march because an application for permission to march was not submitted within the seven-day notice period required for officials to put safety plans and commuter notifications in place.
''We didn't give permission for that to happen," said Mamonyane.
Metro Police and SA Police Service officials had been on duty since 02:00 at the Sandton, Rosebank and Johannesburg stops, and at the offramp towards Gautrain's office in Midrand in case the march went ahead regardless, she said.
Early on Thursday morning traffic was flowing smoothly and no disruptions had been reported yet, she added.
Mbalula's call comes after an Uber vehicle was set alight and two drivers were attacked in Sunnyside on Wednesday afternoon. The two sides are at loggerheads over competing business interests.
"South Africa is not a Banana Republic,'' said Mbalula. ''Only in a country that does not have laws people will think it is normal to petrol-bomb people’s cars, shoot them and physically attack them, without any response from police."
"The police will be on duty to protect the rights of South Africans and to maintain law and order. Economic sabotage will not be tolerated no matter how people feel strongly about their grievances. Freeways are a critical component of our economy."
"Both the meter taxi owners and Uber owners must sit down and agree on how they must work together without bloodshed," said Mbalula.
Police Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said one of the Uber drivers attacked on Wednesday were taken to hospital and police were searching for the attackers.
Last week South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) blocked roads and highways in Gauteng over high financing costs for the Toyota Quantum.