Nyanga taxi hell

2015-05-01 19:16

Taxi drivers hurled rocks at passing cars at the Nyanga taxi rank on Tuesday morning. 

Mandla Mahashe

Taxi drivers hurled rocks at passing cars at the Nyanga taxi rank on Tuesday morning. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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The streets of Nyanga and some parts of Philippi disintegrated into chaos on Tuesday morning when belligerent taxi drivers burnt down two Golden Arrow buses and stoned vehicles.

Four company cars had been hurled with rocks, one van set alight, with some motorists and commuters injured.

The taxi drivers pelted any government vehicle on sight with two shots fired at the taxi rank resulting in a stampede as commuters tried to flee from the bullets. There were no serious injuries reported in that incident.

The cause of the unrest, according to the taxi drivers was the continued harassment of their lot by city law enforcement officials targeting illegal vehicles and drivers with outstanding fines.

Three journalists, two from the Daily Sun and Ground Up, were attacked when they were caught capturing images of the anarchists.

“A Daily Sun vehicle was among the vehicles that were stoned. The photographer and her colleagues were allegedly approached by about 20 taxi drivers who instructed them not to take photos. They broke the photographers camera, took her cell phone and CD’s,” said Nyanga police spokesperson Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi.

She said that the photographer also alleges that when she drove away to the station she could see that her colleagues were being assaulted

In New Eisleben, two people were seriously injured when the bus they were travelling in was burnt.

“We had to jump out of the windows when we saw rocks were thrown into the bus. It was chaos as people were shoving each other trying to flee. One lady’s leg was broken with the bone piercing here skin,” said one visibly shaken commuter.

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security, revealed that on Tuesday morning city officials undertook the operation which is believed to be the tipping point.

He said that a total of 16 vehicles were impounded, 15 drivers did not have valid operating licences and one was operating contrary to the conditions of their licence.

“Officials served 51 warrants valued at R52 700 were served, issued nine warnings, arrested three drivers for outstanding warrants, and issued 194 fines for various transgressions, including 36 unlicensed drivers,” he said.

Smith said that members of the local taxi association tried to persuade officials to stop the operation but when that failed they issued a threat.

“They left the area, stating that the ‘situation will develop as it goes on’ – a statement taken by our staff as a direct threat.

A short while later, word was received that buses were being stoned at the Nyanga terminus and that roads were being blockaded by protestors,” he said.

The officials along with SAPS dropped the operation to attend to the skirmishes.

“I condemn the actions of the taxi drivers in the strongest terms. We cannot condone this type of behaviour, as it is aimed at intimidating and undermining our enforcement efforts.

I have said it before and I will say it again: no one is above the law and we will not allow this thuggish behaviour to derail our efforts at ensuring safer roads through compliance in the public transport industry,” he warned. Bronwen Dyke, spokesperson for Golden Arrow Bus company said that the service was suspended in Nyanga and Philippi until the situation improved. At the time police stated that one man, 21, was arrested for stoning vehicles in Nyanga

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