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By Itumeleng Mafisa

Digital Journalist

Gauteng taxi war: Retaliation over impounded vehicles leaves residents stranded

Monday morning saw many commuters being stranded as tensions between two taxi associations in Soweto threatened violence.

Police are monitoring several areas in Soweto where there have been threats of taxi violence said the MEC of Roads and Transport Kedibone Diale-Tlabela.

Threats of violence

In a statement Diale-Tlabela said her department had been informed by police that there was a looming taxi war between two associations which have been at loggerheads for years in parts of Soweto,

Diale-Tlabela said the police operations which began last week around routes which are being disputed by the Witwatersrand African Taxi Owners Association (WATA) and Nancefield-Dube West Taxi Association’s (NANDUWE) resulted in almost 50 taxis being impounded.

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“We received security threat alerts that the two taxi associations who have been engaged in fatal attacks against each other were planning retaliations. We then worked with law enforcement agencies to work monitor disputed routes mainly around Zone 9 and Central Western Jabavu and Orlando West.”

However, on Monday morning WATA retaliated against the impounding of their vehicles and embarked on a three-day stay away, leaving commuters stranded in several parts of Soweto and Johannesburg Central.  

“The department notes that WATA decided to withdraw its services on Monday for three specific days in Zola which is not a disputed route and the department sees this as intended to punish innocent commuters,” Diale-Tlabela said.

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Commuters have been asked to use other alternative modes of transport while the situation remains unresolved.

Department sanctions on the industry

Diale-Tlabela intends to close affected NANDUWE and WATA taxi ranks and routes in Soweto over the violence.

“I am duty bound to ensure that public transport is safe and that the community is forced to live under a stranglehold of violence. Public transport is there to make it easy for the commuting public to travel from home to work and back safely,” said Diale-Tlabela.