A 33-year-old man from Langa who is working as a vendor near the Langa taxi rank fears for his life after he was threatened and allegedly forced by taxi owners to pay a protection fee or vacate his spot.
Sipho Mabuto who is selling toilet paper in front of the shops near the taxi rank said he has been doing business on that spot for almost three years.
“Since last year the taxi owners harassed me and demanded a R15 per week fee. They keep on coming every month demanding the money, but I refuse to pay it because it is unconstitutional,” said Mabuto.
He said last week Thursday the taxi owners visited him again and gave him an ultimatum and threatened to close his stall.
“I’m not sure when they are going to come back again, but I’m not going to leave here. I will stay and sell here,” he said, adding he is not sure if other vendors are paying the protection fee.
Mabuto said he went to the police station last Thursday to open a case of intimidation against the taxi owners but the police refused.
“The police told me the taxi owners have a right to demand the money because I’m selling goods in their territory. They chased me out of the station,” he alleged.
Cape Amalgamate Taxi Association spokesperson Andile Soyamo refuted the claims that taxi owners are demanding protection fees, saying there is no such thing at any of the taxi ranks that they are operating from. “We don’t charge people. How can we charge vendors money while they depend on us (taxi operators) to buy their stock? Maybe they were people who were trying to rob him,” he said. Soyamo urged Mabuto to visit their regional taxi rank in Nyanga to give them more details so they can assist him.
Langa police station spokesperson Captain Nondumiso Paul described the alleged treatment Mabuto received from her colleagues as “shocking”, saying every citizen has a right to open a case. She urged Mabuto to come to the station and ask for her personally to reopen it.