SA cops deny Le­sotho taxis en­try

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Man­toetse Maama

The South African po­lice at the Maseru Bor­der Post on Tues­day this week de­nied mem­bers of the Maseru Re­gion Trans­port Op­er­a­tors (MRTO) per­mis­sion to ferry pas­sen­gers into South Africa, ar­gu­ing they feared vi­o­lent re­ac­tion from Free State taxi op­er­a­tors.

This was de­spite the fact that the MRTO mem­bers hired their own se­cu­rity from Dur­ban last week, which they are pay­ing M57 000 a week to pro­tect their mem­bers as they take pas­sen­gers to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions in South Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to MRTO chair­man Mokete Jonase, Bloem­fontein-based South African po­lice had agreed to col­lab­o­rate with the Taxi and Vi­o­lence Unit Se­cu­rity from Dur­ban in pro­vid­ing their mem­bers with se­cu­rity fol­low­ing count­less at­tacks by Free State taxi own­ers, who ac­cused them of “steal­ing our busi­ness”.

how­ever, as soon as three taxis had just crossed the Maseru Bor­der Post, they were stopped and or­dered back to Le­sotho with the po­lice say­ing they feared their pres­ence in South Africa could spark vi­o­lence.

Mr Jonase said: “Our taxis crossed the Maseru Bor­der Gate at around 1pm be­cause we had reached an agree­ment with the Bloem­fontein po­lice that they would work with the pri­vate se­cu­rity we had hired, in pro­tect­ing our mem­bers while they fer­ried pas­sen­gers in South Africa.

“But the taxis were stopped on the South African side of the bor­der by the po­lice, who said they could not pro­ceed be­cause they feared they would be at­tacked.

“The ar­gu­ment with the po­lice con­tin­ued un­til the taxi driv­ers de­cided to come back to Le­sotho and then went all the way to the Butha-buthe Bor­der Gate, where they then crossed and pro­ceeded to Gaut­eng and Rusten­burg.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Jonase, their mem­bers would do what­ever it takes to take pas­sen­gers across the bor­der.

he con­tin­ued: “What also hap­pened was our pri­vate se­cu­rity of­fi­cers were dis­armed by the South African po­lice, who said they wanted to check if their firearms were reg­is­tered.

“how­ever, seven of the weapons were re­turned the same day, ex­cept one, which the po­lice said they still needed to check and see if it had not been used to com­mit­m­mit any crime. Again, on Tues­day night, the South African po­lice went to the homes of three of the guards s we had hired and ar­rested them.. To this day, we don’t know why hy this hap­pened as the guards s are still in cus­tody.”

Asked why the op­er­a­tors con­tinue risk­ing theirheir lives and prop­erty as their ve­hi­cles are some­timesmes set alight in South Africa,ca, Mr Jonase said: “We de­serveeserve a stake in this op­er­a­tion, just the samee way that taxi op­er­a­tors from other south­ern African­ri­can coun­tries are tak­ing king pas­sen­gers into Southuth Africa.”

mrto chair­man mokete Jonase

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