South Africa 15.6.2015 09:00 am

Taxi drivers charged with terrorism

FILE PICTURE: Police members pull aside a taxi and do their  search as they are patrolling the Gleblands hostel in uMlazi south of Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

FILE PICTURE: Police members pull aside a taxi and do their search as they are patrolling the Gleblands hostel in uMlazi south of Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday could not provide further details of its decision to charge 15 eThekwini taxi drivers with terrorism.

They were arrested in connection with last month’s violent taxi strike. “I have to first engage the prosecutor in the case to get an idea of how he arrived at that decision. It would be difficult for us to comment on the case as we currently do not have all the details around the matter,” said NPA spokesperson, Luvuyo Mfaku.

Durban prosecutor’s Barend Groen decision to charge the drivers in terms of the Terrorism Act of 2004 has raised eyebrows in legal circles. Groen had argued in court that the violent nature of the strike, during which members of the public were assaulted, municipality property damaged and motorists stoned, amounted to acts of terrorism as set out in the Act.

“I believe that the prosecutor applied his mind before reaching such a decision,” Mfaku said. The drivers, who were released on R3000 bail each on Friday, had participated in the May 26 taxi strike that saw hundreds of taxi conductors and drivers converging in the city.

Strikers protesting over the impounding of minibus taxis by metro police ran amok in the city – blocking traffic and torching municipality vehicles. According to the protestors, eThekwini metro police had continued to impound taxis despite the fact that negotiations were ongoing between taxi bosses and the council’s leadership to resolve problems around the issuing of operating permits.

Several impounded minibus taxis were later released as part of an agreement between taxi bosses and the eThekwini municipality after the strike. Apart from the terrorism charge, the drivers are also facing a string of other charges in connection, including malicious injury to property, public violence, common assault, aggravated robbery and obstructing traffic.

The drivers, who have to report twice weekly to the Durban Central police station as part of their bail conditions, will be back in court on July 17.

 

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