At the taxpayer’s expense the Minister of Police, acting National Police Commissioner, Provincial Police Commissioner and Polokwane Station Commander were expected to oppose a Limpopo High Court application on behalf of a taxi association, whose members the Police apparently failed to protect when they intended to operate from a down-town city rank amid threats of growing tension in the recent past.
The application is expected to be brought on behalf of Polokwane-based close corporation LLB Beleggings BK and its close to 90 affiliate members today (Thursday).
Apart from the Police top brass the twelve respondents in the matter include the Marothong Taxi Association, Regona Taxi Association, Mphebatho Taxi Association, Polokwane-Germiston Taxi Association and four individuals representing the associations, as set out in documentation at Polokwane Observer’s disposal. The four individuals are listed as Malesela Moses Modiba, Mogale Phineas Rammala, Balochana Johannes Manzini and Charles Leta.
In the second week of March Polokwane Observer reported that Provincial Police Commissioner Nneke Ledwaba was seen to allegedly ignore the threat of looming war in a taxi rank in President Kruger Street in Polokwane that previous Sunday. The Police were perceived to be missing in action despite reported prior arrangements for Police backup following a court order of 28 November last year allowing members attached to LLB Beleggings BK to load and off-load passengers at the rank. On Sunday afternoon the lawyer for LLB Beleggings BK, Eliot Buthane, said in an interview at Polokwane Police Station that taxi operators and owners had been waiting since early morning for Police deployment at the rank in order to fill up their vehicles for two intended return trips to Gauteng that day. He indicated that they had the undertaking that the Police would be present at the rank that day as per agenda of a meeting with Ledwaba’s one deputy several days before. However, that morning the Police had not delivered on the undertaking and Ledwaba indicated that he was on his way to Mpumalanga, Buthane remarked. Early afternoon Polokwane Station Commander Mosima Maila entered into a meeting with Buthane, LLB Beleggings BK Chairperson Job Mahlo and representatives of rival associations allegedly hostile in adhering to the court order, it was learnt. Late afternoon taxi operators affiliated to the applicant had to undertake the return journey with empty vehicles.
In the notice of motion the applicant seeks the court to declare the conduct of Maila, Ledwaba and acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane to be in contravention of the earlier court order, to the extent that they have failed to prepare to take necessary steps to arrest and/or detain members of the respective taxi associations and the four respective individuals listed as respondents.
The applicant further seeks the court to compel Maila, Ledwaba and Phahlane to forthwith take all reasonable steps to arrest members of the listed associations and the four individuals for interfering, restricting and/or obstructing members affiliated to the applicant from utilising, accessing and/or using the President Kruger Street facility as stated in the court order of November last year.
The applicant also called on the first eight respondents – the four taxi associations and four individuals linked to it – to show cause why they should not be found to be in contempt of the initial court order.
The applicant would further want the court to compel the respondents expected to oppose the application to pay costs on attorney and client scale jointly and severally, including costs of counsel.
In elaborating on the ongoing battle to conduct business at the facility, Mahlo stated in his founding affidavit that he had been reliably informed that four of the respondents were inciting violence against members of LLB Beleggings BK and also encouraged their members to violate the initial court order.
He further mentioned that after noticing that they were not going to receive assistance from law enforcement agencies in Polokwane they had written to Phahlane to secure his intervention to which they requested a response by 24 February, but no intervention or feedback was forthcoming.
“We have done all what (that) we can to try to engage the respondents peacefully and in a civilised manner, but they are throwing eggs on our face. We have approached (the) court for appropriate relief and the court agreed with us but unfortunately the Police have failed us.
“Our members are not happy at all and some want(s) to take up the fight against the respondents and I am afraid that if the situation is not resolved, things can turn ugly and we don’t want to see bloodshed due to taxi violence. They are frustrated and don’t understand why they could not have access to their taxi rank while being in possession of a court order.
“Some are also contemplating on stopping all the minibus taxis operating from Polokwane to Gauteng province but we as the leadership are trying our best to contain them.”
The deponent concluded saying that after the judgement was delivered, members affiliated to the applicant and their taxi associations had already experienced hostility and threats of violence, war and death from members attached to the respondents.
Story & photo: YOLANDE NEL