Protesting minibus operators denied bail

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

All 29 taxi operators who were arrested on Monday during violent protests in Groblersdal, Limpopo, have been refused bail.

Their case had been postponed until tomorrow for a bail hearing. The police also impounded at least 68 minibus taxis in the process.

The taxis have been parked at the Groblersdal, Dennilton and Marble Hall police stations.

The owners will have to pay no less than R50000 for the release of each vehicle.

The arrest came after operators had been warned several times about flouting the terms of their march permit by going through Moganyaka, a route they were barred from using.

They had been granted a permit to march from Marble Hall to Groblersdal.

They had also been told to use only one lane of the road but used two lanes, causing traffic congestion, that eventually inconvenienced other motorists.

The police had to use minimum force after they allegedly ignored several warnings to stick to one lane.

Rubber bullets were used when the protesters allegedly became unruly.

The group yesterday made a brief appearance in the Groblersdal magistrate's court.

They were charged with contravening the Road Traffic Act by obstructing other road users, contravening the Gatherings Act and interfering with police duties.

Police spokesman Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba said yesterday the case was postponed for further police investigations.

"Also, their lawyers are still negotiating for a settlement in terms of the release of the vehicles," Ramatseba said.

"We just hope that the arrest of the group will send a strong message to taxi operators that they are not above the law."