‘My car is not a taxi’

2019-02-26 14:52
A file picture of minibus taxis park at a rank in Sandton. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

A file picture of minibus taxis park at a rank in Sandton. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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A Northdale man is fighting a local taxi association which allegedly impounded his car on the grounds that he was operating an illegal taxi.

Satish Gopie has opened a case of extortion against the Northern Suburbs Taxi Association (NSTA) after the association allegedly charged Gopie R2 000 to release his black Polo Vivo from where it was being kept at a private residence.

Gopie told The Witness that he was approached by NSTA members, accompanied by private security guards, after people were seen putting their shopping in the boot of his car in the Raisethorpe CBD on Chota Motala Road.

“I was just picking up friends and family who called me there after they did their shopping.

“My back was toward the car so how could they have thought I was a taxi trying to get customers?”

He said an altercation broke out and he was told his car would be impounded. “I said ‘for what? I’m not loading [passengers]’, but they wouldn’t listen. They said I was loading on their route illegally.

“But I have another job; I was not poaching customers.”

Gopie said he needed to borrow R2 000 from his brother, who owns a small stall in the Raisethorpe CBD, to pay to have his car released.

Venesh Kistensamy, the public relations officer for the NSTA, declined to comment, saying a statement could incriminate the taxi association since a criminal case has been opened.

The NSTA has tried to clamp down on illegal taxi operators along their route.

The organisation has also complained in the past of the general degradation of the Raisethorpe CBD.

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim confirmed a case of extortion was under investigation.

The incident has raised concerns in the ward.

Chairperson of the Ward 31 war room, Venolin Govender, said he had made requests in the past to the various role players to find a solution to their problems.

“I hope they all come up with an amicable solution, because what might happen is there might be retaliation [against the NSTA] and that will be bad.”

Howard Dembovsky, of Justice Project South Africa, meanwhile, said a taxi association had no authority to impound a person’s vehicle.

“But it happens all over the place. It is tantamount ... to theft.”

Dembovsky added: “I understand how it can come to this if you look at the lack of proper policing in areas, but I still cannot condone it.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi industry

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