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By Vusi | Jun 19, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

POLICE have vowed to fight fire with fire should taxi drivers engage in any illegal conduct during their protest planned for Monday.

POLICE have vowed to fight fire with fire should taxi drivers engage in any illegal conduct during their protest planned for Monday.

The stern warning came yesterday as taxi drivers who call themselves United Taxi Drivers Associations Forum called for a stay-away on Monday. They are protesting against Johannesburg Metro Police Department's Operation Nomakanjani which has been running since March.

Drivers from 21 taxi associations in Gauteng said they would close all entry points into the province to ensure that no taxis enter or leave. More than 5000 taxis will be involved.

One driver said: "We have volunteers who will be posted on all roads that are entry points into Gauteng. We will be nice to the drivers but their attitude will determine the kind of reaction they will get.

"We will not be violent but if the driver displays a nasty attitude we will deal with him. As for the general public, they should seek alternative transport."

They vowed that the stay-away would continue until JMPD accede to their demands.

Ministry of Police spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said they would be fully armed to act should the situation turn violent.

"They will see more than what happened last time. We talk less and act more," Lesufi said.

During the previous taxi strike in April, police were called in when protesters, who were marching against Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system in Johannesburg, ran amok. They stoned buses and intimidated other motorists.

In one incident police used rubber bullets in Wynberg, north of Johannesburg.

Lesufi said yesterday: "If they break the law they will face our might. There is a law to defend."

Taxi drivers have been at loggerheads with the JMPD since Operation Nomakanjani was launched in March. Traffic officers have been impounding taxis and arresting drivers infringing traffic laws.

More than 2000 motorists, including taxi drivers, have been arrested since then.

JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said they have had meetings with taxi bosses over the impending strike.

"We are having another meeting tomorrow (Friday). We are enforcing the law that was passed by Parliament," Minnaar said.

"We will continue enforcing the law until taxi people come up with the alternative solution."

Drivers spokesperson Joe Mophuting said they would be having a meeting with the JMPD today to discuss the matter.


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