Taxi associations battle over Soweto routes

WATA suspends services after driver murdered

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Photo of damaged taxi
A taxi damaged in violence between rival taxi associations Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (WATA) and Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) in Soweto. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Spokesperson for the Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (WATA) George Maphalala said on Wednesday that one of the association’s drivers was murdered in the conflict between rival taxi associations in Soweto.

“One of our drivers was stabbed to death yesterday at around 4pm in Dube. We believe this is linked to the violence that is taking place because the people who stabbed him are known to our drivers,” said Maphalala.

He said that a second driver was also stabbed but survived and is in intensive care.

The driver’s death comes after violence broke out in the Soweto suburb of Orlando on Tuesday between Witwatersrand African Taxi Association (WATA) and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe). Multiple taxis were stoned with one vehicle being rolled down an embankment and set alight. Passengers travelling in the vehicles ran for cover as they claimed that some of the attackers were brandishing guns.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Edna Mamonyane confirmed that shots were fired. “Some taxis had been shot at and other motorists were blocked. They couldn’t get to work,” said Mamonyane.

Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) had arrested three suspects, two for possession of unlicensed firearms and one for malicious damage to property.

The violence stems from a dispute over taxi routes between the two associations. A statement released by MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi warned that violence and intimidation would not resolve the matter. “The dispute was formally heard by the Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) in terms of Section 79 of the National Land Transport Act. The ruling by PRE infers that WATA has irregularly encroached on the routes registered in the name of Nanduwe. The Department of Roads and Transport appeals to the members of both taxi associations to abide by the ruling,” said Vadi.

This morning, passengers in Soweto struggled to find transport as WATA suspended its services due to the continued threats of violence. “We have suspended all services until the situation can be resolved. It’s too dangerous for us to operate at this time,” said WATA spokesperson Maphalala. 

TOPICS:  Transport Violence

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