'Mamelodi taxi chair must quit'

Vusi Khekhe Mathibela's taxis jumping the queue is among the grievances that have prompted drivers to call for the chairperson of the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association (Mata) to step down.
Vusi Khekhe Mathibela's taxis jumping the queue is among the grievances that have prompted drivers to call for the chairperson of the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association (Mata) to step down.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Disgruntled taxi owners, drivers and other workers have called for the chairperson of the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association (Mata) to step down, accusing him of failing to respond to their grievances.

The protests that went on for two days in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, last week leaving thousands of commuters stranded, flared up again yesterday.

Queue marshals have also joined the protest, saying their weekly pay was cut from R900 to R700.

Last week, taxi drivers downed tools in protest against feared Mamelodi taxi boss Vusi "Khekhe" Mathibela's taxis getting special treatment by making them jump the queues at taxi ranks.

Mathibela, whose bail in the murder case of North West businessman Wandile Bozwana was revoked, is in jail and fighting to have it reinstated.

This after extortion charges against him were withdrawn due to key witnesses either withdrawing statements or refusing to cooperate.

When Sowetan arrived at Mahube taxi rank, angry taxi drivers were in a meeting and accused police of brutality. They said police slashed their tyres and claimed they shot at them using rubber bullets.

"Our chairman is the cause of all the problems in the association and all we want, as taxi drivers, is for him to step down with immediate effect because he is not helping or trying to resolve the situation in the association," said a representative for the drivers who asked not to be named.

"Every Monday, I'm being held at gunpoint by the Mata members who collect R150 from taxi drivers and I pay it because I fear for my life and don't want to lose my job because jobs are scarce nowadays," said another representative.

"We are going to protest until the chairman resigns from his position. We are fed up with his lies, betrayal and corruption and favours that he is doing [for others] in the association," said an angry taxi driver.

The chairperson, known as Ntate Phosa, yesterday said he was in a meeting and would come back to Sowetan with responses, but had not done so at the time of going to print.

When he spoke to Sowetan last week, he claimed he did not know about the issues being raised by the protesters.

A man who has been working as a queue marshal for more than 10 years said: "I'm disappointed with the association. Why did they reduce my weekly R900 pay when no one consulted me about it? Now I have to start looking for another job just to keep food on the table at home and I must cut my expense as well as those of my family."

Provincial police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele denied allegation that police slashed tyres. He urged those who have complaints against their members to open a case and police will investigate.

Makhubele said they would monitor the situation.

Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo said he would meet with the operators today.

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