SA nabs cross-bor­der taxi war sus­pects

Lesotho Times - - News - ‘Man­toetse Maama

THE South African author­i­ties are fi­nally bring­ing to book those be­hind the at­tacks against Le­sotho taxi op­er­a­tors, maseru re­gion Trans­port op­er­a­tors (mrto) Spokesper­son Le­bo­hang moea has said.

Ac­cord­ing to mr moea, the sus­pects were de­nied bail af­ter ap­pear­ing in court re­cently, a sign that the South African gov­ern­ment is fi­nally re­spond­ing to their pleas. Le­sotho taxi op­er­a­tors had ac­cused the South African gov­ern­ment and po­lice of be­ing com­plicit in the stand­off by do­ing noth­ing yet the vi­o­lence would hap­pen right be­fore the po­lice yet the per­pe­tra­tors were not ar­rested.

“Three sus­pects who were ar­rested for dam­ag­ing taxis and at­tack­ing driv­ers ap­peared be­fore the Lady­band mag­is­trates’ Court on mon­day and they were de­nied bail,” he said.

“They were re­manded in cus­tody and, to us as taxi op­er­a­tors, it is a good sign since they have been dam­ag­ing our prop­erty with­out get­ting ar­rested.”

Ba­sotho-owned cross-bor­der taxis that were op­er­at­ing on the South African side were sup­posed to start their trips from sta­tions within Le­sotho. How­ever, as soon as they had crossed the maseru Bridge Bor­der Gate, the op­er­a­tors were con­fronted by the Free State op­er­a­tors and stopped from pro­ceed­ing into South Africa. The taxi driv­ers were or­dered to take their pas­sen­gers back to Le­sotho and never carry pas­sen­gers into South Africa again, lest they be pun­ished for it.

mr moea added that since hir­ing a se­cu­rity com­pany to pro­tect them and their ve­hi­cles, Le­sotho taxi op­er­a­tors had been able to ferry pas­sen­gers from maseru to dif­fer­ent South African des­ti­na­tions.

“We have made a lot of progress be­cause we are now able to cross into South Africa with pas­sen­gers. The taxi turf war has so far dis­si­pated un­like in the past when, ev­ery time we crossed the bor­der, we were at­tacked,” he said.

“The South African gov­ern­ment is in dis­cus­sions with taxi as­so­ci­a­tions in Gaut­eng for them to merge with the Free State taxi op­er­a­tors so that we can op­er­ate har­mo­niously.

“We are ready to work with them in peace. This is why when they were at­tack­ing and dam­ag­ing our ve­hi­cles, we re­sorted to the court of law in or­der to re­solve the mat­ters in civil way.”

once the ne­go­ti­a­tions are over, mr moea said, pedes­tri­ans would not need to cross the bor­der on foot as they would board the public trans­port in Le­sotho.

“This will also help with se­cu­rity is­sues and stop illegal mi­grants from en­ter­ing both coun­tries. I am not sure how long these ne­go­ti­a­tions will take, but our Trans­port min­istry will also in­volve the Home Af­fairs min­istry on this is­sue,” he said.

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