Heavy load to carry

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

He's sooo heavy, he ain't our brother.

That's the refrain of taxi drivers whenever the ultra- obese Isaiah Lamola waddles towards their minibus.

The 50-year-old Lamola, of Marapyane in Mpumalanga claims local taxi drivers are denying him the right to board their vehicles because of his weight.

Lamola is so fat that when Sowetan asked him to weigh himself in Pretoria yesterday the scale broke, leaving his weight a mystery.

Lamola is now threatening to take his local taxi drivers, who are affiliates of the Marapyane Taxi Association, to the Human Rights Commission for refusing him a ride.

He said he was told in the hearing of other passengers that the shock absorbers of the taxis could not handle his weight.

Lamola said: "I don't feel like I fit in the socio-economic system because of this discrimination."

Lamola said his anguish started last month when a taxi driver, Zebulon Sekwala, refused him a ride.

"I was waiting for a taxi when the driver of a taxi with a registration number known to me told me I was too big for his taxi," he said.

"The following day, the driver of another taxi, of which I also wrote down the registration numbers, also refused to let me get into his taxi, saying that I alone was taking the space of six people."

Lamola said he complained to taxi rank committee member Jeff Tswai, who promised to investigate, but nothing has happened.

When contacted by Sowetan, Sekwala said he had never refused Lamola a ride in his minibus taxi.

"He is lying. How can I do such a thing?" Sekwala said.

Tshidiso Thipanyana, chief executive of the Human Rights Commission, in Johannesburg, condemned the incident.

"It is unacceptable for anyone to discriminate against another person on the grounds of sex, race or disability. Lamola can lodge a complaint at our offices."

Kenneth Habyane, chairman of Marapyane Taxi Association, said Lamola should lay a formal complaint at the association offices. He said Lamola's allegations were very serious.

"If his allegations are found to be true, then drastic measures will be taken against the guilty party or parties," Habyane said.