Sowetan

Taxi body promises to defy ban

MEC slated for shutting ranks

- By Mothusi Masemola and Sibongile Mashaba

One of the taxi associatio­ns facing a ban over routes remained defiant yesterday, saying it would transport commuters at all costs today.

Witwatersr­and African Taxi Associatio­n (Wata) spokesman Arthur Buthelezi slammed Gauteng MEC for roads and transport Ismail Vadi for “thinking that he is above the law”, after Tuesday’s announceme­nt that he would close disputed routes and taxi ranks in Soweto.

Buthelezi said Wata would use alternativ­e routes to transport commuters. The ban against Wata and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Associatio­n (Nanduwe) kicked in at midnight. “We will get our passengers to work at all costs. They are our bread and butter,” said Buthelezi.

He said Vadi should have waited for the courts to decide on their appeal over routes.

“This matter is before court and we believe there were routes belonging to us that were given to other people.

“... We are aware that this [using alternativ­e routes] may cause more problems, but what can we do? The MEC jumped the gun,” said Buthelezi.

Sam Sekhu, Nanduwe’s lawyer, said the department should be held accountabl­e.

“The department is mischievou­s. This is a mockery of justice ... People started dying because of this. The blood is on their hands,” said Sekhu.

The taxi ranks affected are Mofolo Kwa-Mthethwa, Makhetha Stores, Dube Station, Makhetha Garage (Phefeni) and Uncle Tom’s.

Both associatio­ns said they had not been informed about the MEC’s decision.

Vadi said 13 cases of murder‚ attempted murder‚ assault‚ damage to property and intimidati­on involving more than 30 suspects and victims were being investigat­ed.

Zola taxi driver Sphiwe Ndlovu said he was worried if he’d be able to support his family at the end of the month.

“I am very sad about the MEC’s decision. I have to support my four children, my mom, sister and nephew. I cannot afford to lose business. Our passengers will also be greatly affected,” Ndlovu said.

Commuter Goitsemang Molatsane welcomed the move to close the ranks. “Yes, it is an inconvenie­nce, but how many more lives should be lost? I support the government; the taxi drivers will feel the pressure.”

Thandokuhl­e Kunene said closing down the ranks will not help because taxi drivers will continue further and more lives will be lost.

The National Taxi Alliance called on Nanduwe and Wata to “respect the rule of law”.

The department’s spokeswoma­n Melitah Madiba had not responded by the time of going to print.

 ?? / MDUDUZI NDZINGI ?? Wata drivers gather at one of their pick-up points yesterday to discuss the way forward following the decision to close disputed taxi ranks.
/ MDUDUZI NDZINGI Wata drivers gather at one of their pick-up points yesterday to discuss the way forward following the decision to close disputed taxi ranks.

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