Court shields bus liner passengers

Taxi bosses in Butterworth and Ngcobo have been ordered by a judge to stop threatening, harassing, intimidating and obstructing bus liner passengers.

Judge Templeton Mageza made the order this week after three separate days of mayhem on the transport lines from the Eastern Cape up to the mines in the Free State, which saw bus passengers being forced off their buses and on to taxis.

The delays caused the passengers to miss other connecting buses and flights.

The company that owns Translux and City-to-City, Autopax Passenger Services, were granted an urgent high court order interdicting the Ngcobo and Butterworth branches of Uncedo Taxi Services and Butterworth Industry Long Distance Taxi Association intimidating and obstructing drivers, passengers and buses operating between Dutywa and Bloemfontein.

On Tuesday, Grahamstown High Court judge Templeton Mageza granted the order in favour of Autopax, which is a division of Prasa, after it urgently approached the court following the violent scenes that erupted at Ngcobo Total garage on July 12 and at Butterworth railway station on June 24 and July 8.

Advocate Matthew Mpahlwa argued on behalf of Autopax that the events of the three days had delayed buses and led to a flurry of passenger complaints.

Mpahlwa said passengers with tickets were blocked from boarding buses by men in minibus taxis who forced passengers to use the taxis.

 

This had created delays, causing Autopax passenger to miss connecting buses and flights.

The Ngcobo and Butterworth Uncedo branches were listed as first respondents, their chairmen – a Mr Faleni and Mandla Ntakana – as second respondents, the Butterworth Industry Long Distance Taxi Association third and its chairman Felix Bomela fourth.

The fifth respondent was stated as “those engaging in or associating themselves with the unlawful conduct”.

Mpahlwa said the taximen were unwilling to allow Autopax to continue running its business freely.

Mphahlwa said if the taxi groups were allowed to continue blocking Autopax buses, the company would suffer irreparable financial harm.

Judge Mageza interdicted both the Ngcobo and Butterworth Uncedo branches and the people engaging in unlawful conduct from threatening, harassing, intimidating and obstructing Autopax drivers, passengers and buses from operating freely along a number of routes from the Free State to the Eastern Cape.

These included roads along the N1, taking in Kroonstad and Bloemfontein, and routes from Welkom via Virginia to Smithfield, Rouxville, Aliwal North and Komani, and finally the R61 to Mthatha and other routes connecting to Butterworth and Dutywa.

Yesterday, Ntakana said the matter was with his lawyers and preferred not to comment.

Bomela confirmed receiving the court order but said he knew nothing about the violence and that he was only included in the court order in his capacity as the chairman of the taxi association.

The Dispatch could not reach Faleni.

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