Ixopo metered taxi owners have won a victory in their turf war against pirate operators.
Pietermaritzburg High Court
Judge Isaac Madondo on Monday upheld an appeal to interdict the illegal metered taxi drivers, handing down a reserved judgment restraining them from picking up fares in the area.
Emereld Nzimande, a metered taxi owner in the Ixopo area who also represented two others, lodged an appeal before Madondo against a decision by an Ixopo magistrate in December last year.
The magistrate refused to grant an interdict restraining Nelala Magubane and 19 others from using their private vehicles as metered taxis within a 50km radius of Ixopo.
Nzimande said they were the holders of radius permits issued by the KZN Department of Transport authorising them to operate metered taxis within this area.
Nzimande submitted that Magubane and his associates were operating their vehicles as metered taxis in their area without having obtained the necessary permits.
“This resulted in unlawful competition and created an acrimonious relationship between us, which also resulted in a reduction in our income,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said that they had reported the matter to the police and after their intervention, an agreement was reached where Magubane and his associates would cease their illegal operation in the area.
However, Magubane did not honour the agreement and the illegal metered taxi operation continued.
In opposing the appeal, Magubane and his associates alleged that Nzimande was not meeting the needs of the community.
Magubane said they had applied to the Department of Transport for the permits, but they had yet to be issued.
The magistrate, in his judgment, found that while Nzimande and his associates would suffer irreparable harm if the interdict was not granted, they still had other remedies available to them, such as inviting police protection or instituting criminal action.
In overturning the magistrate’s judgment and granting the interdict, Madondo said that the rights of Nzimande were clear.
“They hold permits issued by the Department of Transport and are, in law, entitled to be protected against any person who will forcibly oust them from their business,” Madondo said.
Madondo said the continued unlawful competition would cause irreparable harm to Nzimande financially, as well as possibly result in physical confrontation that could lead to the loss of lives.
“Such an occurrence would disrupt the operation of metered taxi business in the area and disturb peace and public order.”
Madondo said the conduct of Magubane and others amounted to a criminal offence and found that the magistrate was not justified in refusing Nzimande the granting of the interdict.
“A direct consequence of the magistrate’s decision was the continued violation of Nzimande’s rights as the condonation of Magubane’s continued contravention of the transport statutes by operating vehicles without permits,” Madondo said. - Daily News