Taxi violence flares

Sibongile Mashaba and Tebogo Monama

Sibongile Mashaba and Tebogo Monama

Taxi violence flared up in Johannesburg again yesterday, scuppering peace initiatives between taxi associations, said the departments of transport and safety and security.

One taxi driver was shot and injured and two others arrested. Two taxis and a bakkie were set alight, while 10 more taxis were stoned and damaged on different routes around Johannesburg.

The feud was between the Alexandra-Randurg-Midrand- Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) and the Alexandra Taxi Association (ATA).

Last year, taxi violence in Johannesburg claimed more than 20 lives. Most of the feuds then were between Faraday and the Dobsonville-Roodepoort-Leratong-Johannesburg Taxi Association (Dorljota).

Today's violence started in Kyalami, Midrand, when drivers forced commuters off taxis and burnt vehicles. They were fighting over the Kyalami-Johannesburg route.

An Armsta taxi driver, who did not want to be named, said that ATA drivers went to Kyalami Business Park and smashed their windows without saying a word. They also forced passengers off taxis.

Two drivers affiliated to the ATA were arrested in Woodmead.

Johannesburg Metro police department spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the two drivers were taken in for questioning.

At the Noord taxi rank in the Johannesburg CBD, an Armsta taxi driver was assaulted.

He was stopped and forced out of his taxi. He fled on foot and four shots were fired at him.

Another ATA driver was shot in the arm in Wynberg by armed men who fled the scene in a vehicle with no registration plates.

Bramley police spokesman Inspector Moses Maphakela said: "The driver was shot and robbed of money. He was taken to Alexandra clinic."

The violence left people commuting to Johannesburg from Alexandra, Midrand and Randburg stranded.

Armsta spokesman Mokgatle Mnisi said: "ATA members are forcing our taxis off the road. The biggest problem is that some of our members decided to leave the association and join the ATA but they still want to be employed by us.

"We do not understand why they want to work that way."

Mnisi said that drivers must be employed by the association they are affiliated to.

"The drivers cannot expect employment from us if they left our association."

He said they had already asked the Gauteng taxi registrar, Sam Ledwaba, to intervene.

Ledwaba said: "There are people who have been arrested and we will wait for the courts to do their job. But we will make sure that there is proper visibility of police on these routes.