Molepolole Police have stepped in to calm simmering tensions between Molepolole bus operators, on one hand, and illegal transport operators, popularly known as ‘pirate taxi operators, on the other.
The tension nearly degenerated into open violence as bus operators took the law into their hands, beating people they suspected of operating illegal transport.
Molepolole Police Station Commander, Superintendent Andrew Bosilong, said that they had sat down with bus operators to try and attend to their grievances.
Bosilong says the matter came to a head when the bus operators assaulted a group of people who were at a filling station on their way to Mogoditshane for work.
He said that the victims were civil servants and coworkers who had decided to share petrol costs by sharing transport.
Bosilong said when the bus operators came upon their victims, who were still re-fuelling their car, they beat them up without seeking any explanations.
Bosilong says they have already arrested the suspected perpetrators and the case has already been registered with the Molepolole Magistrate court.
“So far I can confirm that they are honouring the mention dates as ordered and will answer for their case again on the 28th February 2011 in the morning” said Bosilong.
He highlighted that the problems are caused by bus drivers and bus assistants, saying that the bus owners do not know about these happenings.
Bosilong conceded that the problem of illegal public transport operators is rampant in Molepolole, adding that by taking the law into their own hands, “bus drivers and conductors are violating the law and will have to answer for that”.
He said after noting the escalating number of skirmishes between the bus operators and pirate operators, they stepped in to resolve the issue.
“We realized we were faced with this problem of pirating because people came with different problems, so we could not deal with them alone,” he said, adding that they then convened a meeting with all bus operators in the area on the 15th February 17, 2011, where the grievances of operators were discussed.
Bosilong says the operators and the police then elected a committee to deal with the problem and to give the operators an avenue through which to channel their grievances.
Molepolole bus drivers confirmed that private cars, especially cars such as Space Wagon or Chariot, are giving them a hard time in business because they carry people for a fare.
Bosilong advised the public to be aware and to give the public transporters first priority because of safety and insurance cover in cases of accidents.
Bosilong, however, also raised another allegation that some passengers say buses are not clean and are slow, while the assistants use vulgar language, making passengers opt for private cars because they are small and always on time.