Taxi war: 2 groups lose their licences
KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda shut down two provincial taxi associations yesterday as an "extraordinary" measure to deal with industry violence.
The Sizwe Transport and Klipriver taxi associations had their operating licences revoked due to a spate of killings in the Ladysmith area in recent months.
This decision, said Kaunda, was an attempt to "restore calm, peace and stability in a conflict-ridden area".
Scores of taxi operators, their families and innocent citizens had been caught up in the violence, he added.
"Violence in this region has a long history. Since 2014, there have been high levels of unrest and violence, which have claimed the lives of 61 people, particularly in the routes operated by Sizwe Transport and Klipriver taxi associations," said Kaunda at a media conference.
While there was relative peace in the past three years, following government intervention, more recent incidents of violence sparked Kaunda back into action.
"In October this year, I was alerted to the fact that about six people had been killed in the conflict involving Sizwe and Klipriver taxi associations.
"I then proactively assigned officials from my department to engage with the two associations. Unfortunately, only one association attended.
"Furthermore, I personally convened a meeting with the two associations in a bid to prevent more killings, owing to each association claiming to be the rightful owners of the routes at the centre of the conflict.
"While in the middle of the talks, we were then alerted to the brutal killing of the deputy chairman of the Klipriver Taxi Association, Mzikayifani Ngobese, two members of his family, his two bodyguards, five schoolteachers and one male passenger.
"This unfortunate incident occurred three days after I had convened a meeting with the two associations in an attempt to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
"To us, this incident demonstrated the extent to which members of these two associations undermine the authority of the state and act as if they are not governed by the laws of this country," said Kaunda.
The MEC called another meeting with the leadership of the industry in the area, but that didn't help.
"Even after this latter meeting people continued to die. On November 24 I convened yet another meeting with both associations to urge them to resolve their dispute. The fact that two people were killed after this meeting was a clear indication that the operators were not prepared to resolve their differences amicably," he said.