File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
BRITS - Taxi operators should not resolve problems through violence, North West Community Safety and Transport Management MEC Dr Mpho Motlhabane said on Wednesday.

"They must learn the art of engagement, negotiation and conflict resolution because violence will never be the solution to any problem. The taxi industry is a business and not a gang," he said.

Motlhabane was responding after a taxi owner was shot, a driver stabbed, a minibus taxi set alight and ten other minibus taxis damaged in Letlhabile near Brits.

The violence appears to be part of a turf war between the Letlhabile Taxi Association and the Hebron Taxi Association over the Brits route.

Motlhabane said officials from the department were on the ground in the area to broker a truce between the two associations.

"We have officials who are working on resolving this conflict and urged operators to cooperate.

"When taxi operators are at logger heads our people are the ones who suffer most because they rely on these taxis to transport them to access social amenities, therefore we cannot allow the situation of this nature."

Johannes Tumanyane, secretary of the Letlhabile Taxi Association (LEBULDT) said the conflicted erupted after the Hebron Taxi Association (HEBTA) wanted to operate from New Town direct to Brits, New Town is a new settlement near Letlhabile.

He said Hebron had been given an operating licence on the New Town-Brits route, but the problem was that they would also go into Letlhabile to drop off passengers and there was a possibility that they would take people from Letlhabile to Brits.

"We have been operating peacefully with Hebron Taxi Association, they transported people from Letlhabile to Hebron, we do not have a problem with that.

"They were given operating licence without loco inspection, there is a meeting on Thursday and an inspection will be conducted for the licencing board to see the area and align the operating licence accordingly."

He said ten minibus taxis belonging to Letlhabile Taxi Association were damaged and another taxi that was not in their association was torched.

The Hebron Taxi Association said they would comment later on the incident as they were busy at the police opening cases and reporting back to their members following a meeting held with the licencing board.

The police were monitoring the situation.

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Emsie Ferreira