In the past three to six months, more than 10 taxi operators have been killed in Soweto amid tensions between two taxi associations.
This is according to spokesperson for the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (Wata) George Maphalala, who was responding to yesterday’s attack on his members, allegedly by a rival taxi association.
The battle, according to Maphalala, has been over a route.
“Our taxis were operating between Mofolo and Orlando West when gunmen opened fire on them and stoned them,” he said.
“Fortunately, this time around, only one taxi was shot at and stoned.”
Maphalala said more than 10 members of the association he represents had been killed in the past six months.
Ralph Jones from the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) said he could not comment on the matter as the two taxi associations concerned were affiliated to Santaco.
Spokesperson for the Johannesburg Metro Police, Inspector Edna Mamonyane, confirmed that the rivalry between Wata and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) was over a particular route.
“From the information we have been able to gather, one of the taxi associations lost a [legal] case, where it wanted to stop its rival association from operating on a particular route.
“The situation was very tense, which prompted the metro police, SAPS and Gauteng traffic officials to intervene in an attempt to defuse what had already turned into a volatile situation,” Mamonyane said.
During the dispute yesterday, some roads were blocked off to traffic, including Dube and Vilakazi streets and most of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes. Passing motorists were also stoned but no injuries were reported.
Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said three people were arrested in connection with the violence. The suspects were found in possession of unlicensed firearms.
“We want to urge motorists whose cars were damaged after being stoned to go to the nearest police stations to open cases,” said Makhubela, who added the situation was tense. Police officers would remain in the area until calm had been restored.
Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said he was aware of the simmering tensions between two rival associations.
“The dispute was formally heard by the provincial regulatory entity (PRE) in terms of section 79 of the National Land Transport Act (2009).
“The ruling by PRE infers that Wata has irregularly encroached on the routes registered in the name of Naduwe,” he said.
Vadi appealed to members from both associations to abide by the ruling, adding that if any party was unhappy or aggrieved, they should follow due processes allowed for by law.