GEORGE NEWS - A Parkdene resident who was arrested on charges of theft and fraud late last year, is planning a march against the George Municipality's moratorium on the issuing of new taxi licences that has been in effect since 2009.
Cornelius Esau said he and his co-accused, Hendrick Phillips, are planning "the biggest march by the taxi industry George has ever seen". He said the planned march will take place under the banner of the George Huurmotor Vereniging (GHV).
But, whether he will be able to pull this off, remains to be seen, as Welele Mbhudede, the chairperson of the biggest local taxi association, Uncedo, told Idinga that they distance themselves from Esau. "We are not sure whether we want to work with him, because we don't trust his plans following his arrest last year. The last I heard, he was in jail."
Esau and Phillips were arrested on 11 December on charges relating to the distribution of a fraudulent letter stating that the George Municipality will be issuing new taxi operating permits.
The letter, featuring the forged signature of Municipal Manager Trevor Botha, was brought to the attention of the municipality on 29 November and a case was opened. After Phillips and Esau's arrest, Captain Malcolm Pojie, the Southern Cape police spokesperson, said a thorough investigation by the Eden Cluster detectives led to the arrest of the suspects, who have allegedly defrauded a number of taxi owners in George and surrounds out of thousands of rand, using a falsified letter they distributed among taxi owners.
"One suspect (50) allegedly offered the 'new permits' at a rate of at least R5 000 cash. The suspects allegedly received tens of thousands of rand impacting about six different victims, of whom some have paid over substantial amounts of cash for multiple so-called permits that were never issued," said Pojie.
The men appeared in the George Magistrate's Court on 12 December and were released on R2 000 bail. Their next court appearance is scheduled for 13 March.
In a press statement released by Esau, he said they welcome their day in court and firmly believe that the law must take its course. "We also want to express the hope that there will be no unnecessary delays by the state."
Though Esau didn't want to elaborate about the allegations brought against him, saying the matter is before the court, he denies the allegations and says he was never involved in the writing of a letter or stole anyone's money.
"GHV chairperson, Hendrick Phillips and myself have never stolen a cent from any member of the GHV or from the GHV itself. We also have never sold a permit to any member of the GHV as well as members of the public."
Compete with buses
Esau said another reason for their march is that they want to compete with the GO GEORGE buses. "Taxis will not disappear. Taxis will be re-introduced in areas such as Pacaltsdorp, Blanco, Rosemoor and Protea Park." He said the moratorium on permits is unlawful and that he would lead evidence to this effect.
Esau said they are consulting with taxi associations in George, Cape Town and the Eastern Cape for the march he intends to stage early this year.
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