SA-Mozambique taxi association meet to defuse rising border tensions
Johannesburg - Fearing a backlash, taxi operators from the crime-ridden Manguzi area in northern KwaZulu-Natal where on Sunday South Africans soldiers allegedly shot and killed two Mozambican police officers, met their counterparts on Tuesday to ease the tensions.
The meeting, according to several taxi operators in the area, came as a result of tensions between the two countries as a result of the shooting incident. One operator said they got information that after the shooting incident, some operators and villagers on the Mozambican side of the border were allegedly planning to blockade the road and retaliate for the deaths.
"There were tensions in the area after the shooting incident and we got information that the Mozambicans were angry and were planning to blockade the border and our leaders called a meeting to iron out the differences," one operator told Independent Media at the Farazela border gate connecting the two countries near Manguzi town.
The chairman of the Border Taxi Association which draws members both from South African and Mozambican border towns, Kenneth Mlambo, confirmed that they met with their Mozambican counterpart.
"After the meeting, we agreed that as the transport industry we should not be drawn into the shooting incident involving our security forces because we were not there and that issue is being investigated those responsible for our forces. The reason why we decided to call the meeting and plead for cool heads was because we feared that some rogue people within us may worsen the situation and find ourselves unnecessarily fighting each other. The good thing is that we all agreed that we should continue to transport people as usual and leave the incident to those who are investigating it," said Mlambo, adding that if the situation was left unattended, it may have led to xenophobic attacks.
A shop operator on the Mozambique side said it was true that there are tensions in the area as a result of the shooting incident but said they were hopeful that eventually, the situation will ease. Am immigration worker at the border gate said it was business as usual at the border gate but they were on high alert as Mozambican villagers may secretly avenge the killings.
"For now everything is fine at the border, we are operating as normal. However, we don't know what they are secretly planning to do in order to avenge the killings. Maybe they will do something secretly," the worried worker said.
It is still not clear what exactly sparked the killing as several versions that are being advanced, but Independent Media was reliably told by several locals that the incident happened on Mozambican soil and the soldiers involved in the killing have since been removed from the army base in Kosi Bay and replaced with new ones.