8 November 2017

South Africa: News24 Journo Accosted, Robbed of Camera During Taxi Protest

A News24 video journalist was accosted by five men in a taxi and robbed of his camera during a protest led by taxi operators on Wednesday morning.

Inga Mbambisa, who works for News24 in Pretoria, was parked on the side of Soutpansberg Road in Tshwane CBD waiting for a convoy of taxis to pass him when four men jumped out of various taxis and surrounded him.

"Four guys jumped out of a number of taxis, surrounding me and instructed me not to shoot any video or take any pictures," said Mbambisa.

"I showed them that the camera lens was still on the camera and the power button was set to the off position."

Mbambisa said the group was seemingly calm until a fifth man carrying a knobkerrie joined and proceeded to motion his weapon towards Mbambisa's forehead.

"He voiced his surprise that I was not flinching as a result of his agitation and I continued to stare him down.

"He then took a half-hearted swing towards my head with the weapon and I managed to grab it with my right hand."

Mbambisa managed to take the weapon from the fifth man who was trying to intimidate him. During this struggle, one of the men managed to grab the camera as Mbambisa tried to put it in the car.

"I swung the knobkerrie a few times to create space and prevent being surrounded, at the same time removing the keys from the ignition."

He said the man who took the camera looked as if he was going to return it, when another man from the group forced him to turn around, however, both jumped into a taxi with the camera and left.

Arrests

Mbabisa was escorted to Pretoria Central Police Station where he opened up a case of theft.

The protest, intended to raise issues in the taxi industry and the alleged lack of co-operation from the department of transport was also mired by two other incidents which resulted in taxi operators being arrested.

In Sinoville, north of Pretoria, a taxi driver was arrested after he drove on the wrong side of the road and collided with a number of vehicles.

Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed the incident saying that four people had been injured.

Two other taxi drivers were arrested in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, for allegedly assaulting a Tshwane Metro police officer who was clearing a blockaded road.

A number of taxi associations under the banner of the National Taxi Alliance are marching towards the Department of Transport and the Union Buildings where they will hand over memorandums of grievances.

The concerns raised include government subsidies, operating licences, as well as the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act which they have called "unconstitutional" and "oppressive".

Several roads were blocked around Pretoria during the morning and there were go-slows on the N4 highway.

Source: News24

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