Tow truckers battle over turf
"This is our car. You are not going to tow it."
This is what Soweto tow truck operators told their counterparts from Lenasia and Eldorado Park in the south of Johannesburg yesterday.
The tow trucks had come to remove one of the vehicles involved in an accident in Dobsonville, Soweto.
Ironically, both the Soweto tow truck operators and the Lenasia and Eldorado Park operators belong to the same Bambanani Towers Association (BTA).
Soweto tow truck operators are unhappy that while the Lenasia and Eldorado Park operators are free to work in Soweto, they are barred from working in areas outside the township.
Soweto tow-truck operators yesterday blocked their fellow BTA members from towing the damaged vehicle in Dobsonville.
The squabble, which involved black and coloured operators, started at 7.15am.
The owner of the car, who asked not to be named, called her car insurer, Auto & General, to remove her vehicle.
But a Soweto operator was first on the scene. While he and the car owner were discussing the arrangements to tow the vehicle, another operator from Lenasia arrived, claiming he had been sent by the woman's car insurance company.
Soon other tow trucks arrived and a territorial battle ensued.
Elias Ntsizwana, whose tow truck was first on the scene, said: "This is our area. We can no longer allow people from outside Soweto to operate here. We are also not allowed to work in your areas."
The Soweto operators warned that there would be bloodshed should operators from other areas be seen in Soweto.
But BTA chairman Msai Maphisa said there were no regulations guiding the towing industry.
Maphisa said car insurance companies had no mandate to give preference to certain tow truck companies.
"Certain car insurance companies have formed corrupt relations with big towing companies, which exclude small black operators. That is why we are saying we are not going to allow people from outside Soweto to operate here."
The squabble ended at about noon when the damaged vehicle was eventually towed away by Soweto operators.