By Masilo Malakwane
QWAQWA – The recent arrest of 11 members of the QwaQwa United Taxi Association (Qwauta) has triggered more reprisal killings as taxi owners enter the second week of violence aimed at elimination of all illegal taxis in QwaQwa routes.
Qwauta chairperson Matshediso Nteo, accused the police and traffic officials of turning a blind eye to the menace of unlicensed taxis and failing to tackle it.
“The association has temporarily suspended operations as of Tuesday 11 August, demanding the release of their arrested members. We have tried without luck to engage police to assist us in solving the problem of unlicensed taxis.
“Thirty-two of our members’ Quantum taxis have been repossessed on account of non-payment of monthly instalments due to untenable operating circumstances brought about by the proliferation of unlicensed taxi operators,” Nteo said in an interview with The Guard.
Police have confirmed that two people were shot amid the ongoing taxi violence in QwaQwa. There are also reports suggesting that another person had been stabbed to death next to Phuthaditjhaba police station earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the representative of the unlicensed taxi owners in Setsing area known as Excel, Maditlhare Sibeko said the taxi industry in QwaQwa is currently unable to meet commuters’ needs. She said the government had promised to ensure that everyone gets licensed.
“The Provincial Registrar Mr Mangaliso Xaba has long since promised that we will be permitted to operate legally but he has since vanished and left us in limbo,” she said.
In another development, social media platforms have been awash with video clips and pictures showing a group of alleged taxi association members overturning vehicles suspected to be operating without licenses on Motebang Road near Thiboloha School a week ago.
Commuters took to social media to raise their concerns and they expressed mixed reactions to the issue of licenced taxis. They also slated the recent instability in the public transport system, stating this could put their safety, especially that of women, at a greater risk because they are reported to have been forcefully dislodged from alleged illegal taxis.