13/09/2012.A bandaged John Matlakala of the ASTOWA taxi association stands with other drivers after they were allegedly attacked by ZMTA taxi association. Picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - Two taxi drivers suffered head injuries when they were allegedly assaulted by rival taxi drivers from Zwananane Marabastad Taxi Association (ZMTA) and Atteridgeville Saulsville Taxi Owners Association (Astoa).

The fight is said to have started when July Msiza, a taxi driver from ZMTA, was allegedly attacked by two Astoa members.

Msiza said he was picking up passengers in Olievenhoutbosch when the two approached him. “One of them came and asked if I was picking up passengers to town. I said no. He then asked the passengers if any of them were going to town but they all said no.

“I told him I had passengers going to Centurion but as I was talking to the man, another one opened my door and pulled me out,” he said. Msiza said they then started assaulting him and demanded his money.

He was allegedly taken to his taxi by one of the men to search for money but they could not find it.

“I then went to the doctor to get my injuries checked out,” said Msiza.

The assault angered his colleagues who are alleged to have stormed the taxi rank where Astoa and Pretoria-Randburg-Soshanguve Taxi Association (PRSTA) taxis park. It is said the men found John Matlakala’s taxi being washed.

Matlakala said that when he saw them approaching, he tried to get into his taxi to get away. “They pulled me out and started assaulting me. “They then stoned my taxi along with five others. They hit me with sticks and stones. I don’t know why I was attacked,” he said. It is also alleged that a member of the ZMTA took out a gun and started shooting.

Astoa and PRSTA members are said to have retaliated by throwing stones before the culprits sped off.

Police spokeswoman Captain Agnes Huma said police arrested one suspect and recovered a firearm.

Investigations were continuing to establish what the fight was all about. “We have opened a case of malicious damage to property, attempted murder and discharging of a firearm in a municipal area,” she said. Tempers over routes have always run high in the area.

Last year, taxi owner Evans Moremi was shot dead in a running battle after a stand-off lasting nearly two hours between PRSTA and ZMTA. Moremi, 45, was a PRSTA transport operator and a member of the Olievenhoutbosch patrol squad.

PRSTA and ZMTA have been engaged in an ongoing fight for nearly two years.

Pretoria News