Taxis go up in flames after associations clash in Mpumalanga

The two taxi associations are allegedly fighting over routes in the Govan Mbeki Municipality.

Two taxis were set alight when taxi violence erupted between Vukanini Taxi Association (Vukta) and Zamokuhle Taxi Association on Tuesday, reports Ridge Times.

It is alleged that the violence is about operating routes.

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Vukta chairperson Fanyana Sibanyoni is of the opinion that the Govan Mbeki Municipality (GMM) incited the violence by giving Zamokuhle Taxi Association a taxi rank in their area of operation without consulting them.

In the first incident, a taxi of Zamokuhle Taxi Association was torched at Louwrence Muller Street, Secunda.

In the second, it is alleged that the taxi driver was coming from Zibulo Colliery where he dropped off staff members who were going to work.

He was using the Leandra/Ogies Road going to eMbalenhle.

As the taxi was approaching the T- junction, he was stopped by a group of taxi drivers.

They instructed and escorted him in the opposite direction towards Leandra.

On the R29 at Norda Street, they pulled him out of the taxi. According to police, he was assaulted and robbed of R7 000 cash.

While Vukanini Taxi Association blamed the municipality for this violence, Zamokuhle Taxi Association expressed their disappointment in the police.

Upon requesting feedback from Vukta, Sibanyoni said the following:

“I distance myself and the association from the torching of the taxis.

“Vukta is not an association of hooligans. We are willing to work with the police to bring to book the perpetrators of this crime.

“However, we have noted that every time we near elections such incidents happen. This is because one of the leaders in Zamokuhle Taxi Association is a politician. He is using his position to push his political agenda. We have made attempts to have meetings with them to find a solution, but they do not respond.”

Mandy Mahlangu, chairperson of Zamokuhle Taxi Association, said his association obtained a court order permitting them to operate in the area without being intimidated by Vukta. He expressed disappointment in Vukta’s behaviour.

Mahlangu alleged that drivers from Vukta intimidated and assaulted some members of his association.

“I am disappointed in the Secunda Police, especially Brig Sifiso Cele, as we forewarned him that this might happen, but no preparations were made.”

He added that police officers did not help during the attack, but instead they kept following the Vukta drivers when they attacked his members in Leandra.

Mahlangu also disputed that these incidents were politically influenced.

The Ridge Times contacted Benzi Soko, Chief of Staff of GMM, and he said that acting mayor Ethel Nkosi will schedule an internal meeting regarding the matter, and will only be able to provide comment once he meeting has been concluded.

The Ridge Times also contacted police spokesperson Cpt Bettina Zondo, however, she could not comment and referred the matter to Brig Cele.

Brig Cele did not answer his phone or SMSes.

At the time of going to press, no comment from Brig Cele was received.

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