The logo of Toyota Motor Corp. is seen at its showroom in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Toyota South Africa Motors’ (TSAM) manufacturing plant in Prospecton in Durban was set to be blockaded from 3am today by a splinter group within the taxi industry.

The planned blockade appears likely to halt vehicle production at the Toyota plant. It signals the commencement of the protest group’s planned countrywide rolling protest action to highlight the total exclusion of the taxi operators from the industry’s value chain.

South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said yesterday the industry in KwaZulu-Natal had confirmed it would embark on protest action against Toyota and would “blockade all entries to the manufacturer's plant in Durban”.

Molelekwa said action was scheduled to start with a blockade at Toyota SA’s plant.

The car manufacturer said it expected the protest to take the form of a “legally sanctioned” peaceful march.

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Suben Moodley, TSAM senior vice-president corporate affairs, said the company had been informed yesterday morning that permission had been granted by the eThekwini municipality for a march to Toyota SA’s premises.

“Since this is a legally sanctioned march, we understand that both the SAPS and metro (police) will be present.

“Toyota has not requested any presence by the SAPS. We believe this will be a peaceful march,” he said.

Moodley added that Toyota SA had not had any contact with the protest group, did not know who the leadership was of the group and apart from what they had read in the media, was unaware of the group’s demands.

Molelekwa said in light of the gravity of the situation, Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch would be in Durban from last night “to attend the event at the request of the protesters”.

Taaibosch told Business Report on Friday he was unaware of any planned protest action by taxi operators but if protest groups of this nature approached Santaco and wanted to share their sentiments about radical economic transformation, Santaco would be the first to say the taxi industry had been excluded from the economy.

Molelekwa said the protesters would announce the next activity before the delivery of a memorandum to the main gate of Toyota SA’s premises in Prospecton Road.

“The grievances of the protesters include, among others, vehicle pricing and taxi financing and demands for radical transformation,” he said.

A document obtained by Business Report outlined what the protest group hoped to achieve.

One of the “immediate priority interventions” was the creation of 11 dedicated taxi industry-owned “taxi-centre dealerships” throughout South Africa for the sale of vehicles to the industry, with all taxi sales directed through these dedicated dealerships.

Business Report reported exclusively earlier this week that the splinter group would target vehicle manufacturers, banks, insurance and fuel companies and government entities by blockading their premises.

MF Filane, a spokesperson for Mass Taxi Industry Protest Action Committee, confirmed on Friday the planned protest action would commence “very soon”, and said it was about radical economic empowerment and transformation and would comprise blockades rather than protest marches as an instrument to bring targeted companies to the negotiating table.

The duration of the action would depend on the response but could continue indefinitely.