Taxi group granted interdict

2017-06-09 13:45
According to court papers the dispute, which began in 2015, had resulted in the deaths of some 10 people and attempted murder of others.

According to court papers the dispute, which began in 2015, had resulted in the deaths of some 10 people and attempted murder of others. (File)

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A temporary interdict designed to prevent potential “large scale bloodshed” arising from a tense dispute between two KZN taxi associations was granted in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Thursday.

The interdict was obtained by the Klipriver Taxi Association against the Sizwe Transport Association as well as the MEC for Transport and MEC for Safety and Security.

According to court papers the dispute, which began in 2015, had resulted in the deaths of some 10 people and attempted murder of others.

An allegation is also made in the court papers that the transport authorities had turned “a blind eye” to what was going on and failed to enforce the correct use of route permits.

In terms of the interim court order granted on day by Judge Mahendra Chetty, members of Sizwe Transport Association are restrained from “directly, indirectly or through third parties” intimidating members of the Klipriver association, from demanding payment from Klipriver members in order to use certain taxi routes and from demanding that members of the Klipriver association make use of passenger lists that bear the name of Sizwe Transport Association.

Sizwe Transport Association is also prevented from using specified routes that are allegedly already in use by the Klipriver association, and was ordered to produce any licences or permits it relies on which describe the routes its members may use.

In terms of the interdict, the MEC for Transport must enforce the provisions of licences or permits issued to the Klipriver association and “take all reasonable steps necessary” to ensure that these are not used by the Sizwe Transport Association or its members.

In court papers, the chairperson of the Klipriver Taxi Association, Bekuyise Masondo, said a bid by the Sizwe Transport Association to take over the routes operated by the Klipriver association had started in 2015 at which time he personally was the target of an assassination attempt.

“Fortunately I survived unscathed,” he said.

Masondo said the same did not apply to the then secretary and about nine members of the association who were all shot and killed.

“As a consequence thereof the entire executive committee went underground so to speak,” he said.

He added that the Sizwe association thereafter assumed control of the Klipriver association’s routes “to a large extent”.

“This they did unlawfully in that they did not possess a valid permit to operate those routes but nevertheless proceeded to take control of those routes as a result of the intimidation and murder that had gone before,” he added.

Masondo said this was the position up to May 11 this year — the date when he was re-elected as chairperson of the Klipriver association.

He said his association is, however, unable to reassert control of its routes without risking large-scale bloodshed.

“I, as the chairperson ... cannot engage with the first respondent [Sizwe association] and request them to refrain from their unlawful acts, as, to put it frankly, I will be killed,” he said.

He said the situation has deteriorated recently and towards the end of last month the Sizwe association had started to demand a “renewal fee” from each member of the Klipriver association in exchange for being allowed to use the routes that were legally designated to them (Klipriver).

“An amount of R1 500 is demanded from each driver who wishes to use the applicant’s [Klipriver’s] own routes and if they refuse to pay they are simply told to remove their vehicle from the rank.

“The driver has no option but to do so as he will be killed or his vehicle vandalized if he continues, or attempts to continue, to make use of the route,” said Masondo.

Masondo said an attempt was made to resolve the matter by contacting the Transport Department, but they seemed “reluctant” to become involved.

“As a matter of fact it became clear to the applicant that at least one employee [of Transport] has aligned himself to the first respondent [Sizwe association] … As a result any efforts to resolve the situation without resorting to litigation has been met without success,” he alleged.

Masondo said the Transport Department appeared to “turn a blind eye” to the situation in that it has a designated taxi unit whose task it is to enforce the correct use of route permits but fails to do this effectively “if at all”.

The department was represented at court by Advocate Mergen Chetty, but has not yet filed any papers.

A representative of the Sizwe Transport Association, who identified himself as G. J. Mabaso, also appeared in person in the high court yesterday.

He told Judge Chetty that he needs time to consult an attorney and reply to the application.

The matter returns to court on July 20.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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