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fists fly at overcrowded driver's testing station

By unknown | Mar 26, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Fist fights broke out at dawn at the Mhala traffic station in Mpumalanga when applicants grew tired of standing in the long queue for hours and some started jumping the queue.

Applicants for learner's and driver's licences had queued since Monday evening outside the testing station in Thulamahashe in order to be the first to be helped when the station opened for the day.

Witnesses told Sowetan that applicants were lined up in three rows but some people became agitated and impatientand complained about the number of people who were standing in the queues.

"A heated argument broke out and people started a fist fight," one of the applicants, Joe Nxumalo of Bushbuckridge, said yesterday. "Some were dragged out of the line and when they resisted a scuffle ensued."

The owner of the Mhala driving school, Bukulela Samson Ndlovu, was grabbed by the collar when he tried to intervene.

"I wonder why people resort to violence when they should just sort things out?," Ndlovu asked. "Someone grabbed me by my collar just because I wanted to fix things up."

The Mhala traffic station is the only one that serves the Bushbuckridge community - a population estimated at more than one million people.

The station manager Norman Mokoena confirmed that they encountered problems because of the big number of people who turned up to be tested every day.

"It is true that the station is the only one that caters for the Bushbuckridge area," Mokoena said. "The challenge is huge. We have a plan in place and hope to open four satellite traffic stations to help ease the situation."

He said this would include the construction of an additional, fully fledged testing station that will help alleviate the congestion.

The satellite stations are likely to be opened at Hluvukani, Acornhoek, Shatale and Mkhuhlu if the Mpumalanga provincial government approves the plan.

Another applicant, Mavis Masuku, called on the provincial government to speed up the opening of new traffic stations in the Bushbuckridge area.

"It is a huge burden for us because we have no choice but to queue here at night in the hope of being the first to be attended to in the morning when the offices open, Masuku said.

"The government has to act and rectify the situation urgently.

"Can you imagine how nervous we are camping out here at night?

"It isn't safe. We leave ourselves open to attack by bad elements who roam the area but what choice do we have?"


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