commuters left stranded

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Taxi commuters between GaMashashane and Mahwelereng in Limpopo were left stranded yesterday when conflict erupted between the two warring organisations.

The stand-off between the Mashashane-Maraba and Mahwelereng Taxi associations has been going on for four years.

Members have been at each others' throats, threatening to tear each other apart.

The matter came to a head yesterday when taxi operators in GaMashashane decided to halt their operations, apparently fearing for their lives.

They claimed that five of their members had so far been chased by members of the other association who were wielding firearms.

Sowetan visited the village of GaMatlapa in GaMashashane yesterday, where about 40 taxis were parked.

Operators vowed not to continue with their operations until the government intervened in the impasse.

According to Emmanuel Maphapho, secretary of the Mashashane-Maraba Taxi Association, they were barred from operating in Mahwelereng and Mokopane, while the other association operated freely.

Maphapho said the situation was created by the behaviour of the rival association.

He said the rival association was transporting commuters from Mahwelereng and dropping them at a village just outside GaMashashane. The commuters were left there to fend for themselves.

"The way those guys (Mahwelereng association members) are conducting their business is a clear indication that they want war," Maphapho said.

He said they were not condoning war but wanted the matter to be resolved amicably so that both associations could operate in an environment free of strife for both operators and commuters.

"Of grave concern here is that the government has allowed us to operate," Maphapho said. "We have permits to that effect.

"Much as we sympathise with commuters, we also have the responsibility to protect ourselves against anyone who poses a serious threat to our lives."

Maphapho said they had held several meetings with the rival association to try and resolve the problem "but everything has come to naught".

Malose Modisha, a taxi coordinator in the area, said yesterday a meeting would be convened shortly to find a solution to the problems in the area.