Taxi drivers revolt against 'Khekhe fees'

Mamelodi taxi drivers stop working taxis and off-load passengers. / Veli Nhlapo
Mamelodi taxi drivers stop working taxis and off-load passengers. / Veli Nhlapo

Mamelodi taxi operators and business people are seemingly launching a mass revolt against feared taxi boss Vusi "Khekhe" Mathibela.

Mathibela, 32, who allegedly runs an extortion ring in the township which forces taxi operators and businesspeople to pay him weekly and monthly fees, is in police custody following his arrest last week.

The notorious taxi boss, who abandoned his bail application this week opting for a high court challenge against his arrest, is facing charges of extortion, fraud and assault.

Yesterday, traffic in and out of the main road into Mamelodi was brought to a standstill when dozens of taxi drivers belonging to the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association (Mata) blocked the road next to the Denneboom taxi rank in protest over the "illegal fees" they paid to Mathibela through their association.

About 100 drivers stopped other taxis from operating and barricaded the road with refuse from about 2pm.

Mata secretary Bonny Ndjishe said he was aware taxi drivers had downed tools but claimed he did not know why.

Taxi drivers expressed frustration at having to pay the fees meant for Mathibela while he was in police custody.

A taxi driver said they wanted to know where all the R200s would go to now that Mathibela was in police custody.

Mathibela has denied the extortion allegations.

A taxi driver affiliated to Mamelodi Taxi Association, who asked not to be named, said they were frustrated because they were still paying "extortion fees" for operating in the township.

"We simply want to know where the money is going to since the person we were paying is now in jail. Where is the association taking the money to?"

More than 100 taxis were earlier parked at the taxi rank where drivers refused to operate until they got answers.

In some instances other drivers were forced off the road and their passengers were ordered out of taxis.

Sowetan has learnt that some taxi operators had refused to pay the weekly fees to the association this week. Minibus taxis are made to pay R200 a week, while the sedans operating as local taxis, known as the 4 plus 1s, are charged R100.

A member of Mamelodi's Small Business Association, who also asked not to be named, said they had a meeting on Monday to discuss the destination of the money they were forced to pay Mathibela.

"What's the purpose now? Who are we giving the money to now? It needs to be clear."

 

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