Inquiry into Gauteng taxi violence reveals 505 unsolved cases due to shoddy SAPS probes
By James Mahlokwane 21m ago
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Pretoria – The commission of inquiry into taxi violence in Gauteng has revealed that there were still over 505 unsolved cases due to shoddy police investigations that have not helped eradicate this old problem in society.
MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo made these remarks quoting a report by the commission established in 2019 by Premier David Makhura to investigate the underlying causes and reasons behind the recurring violence in the industry.
The commission chaired by retired justice Jeremiah Buti Shongwe interviewed the biggest and smallest stakeholders, mostly behind closed doors, including witnesses and victims, to understand this problem affecting both members of the South African National Taxi Council and the National Taxi Alliance.
Mamabolo said among the many reasons for the violence, commissioners found that minibus taxis that belonged to taxi associations and some powerful taxi bosses did not wait in lines at taxi ranks and simply moved to the front of the queue to collect passengers.
This behaviour the industry called “reversing” caused a lot of resentment and tension in the industry and subsequently led to the members of one taxi association resorting to using violence to advance their interests to load more frequently.
Mamabolo said another factor causing violence was that: “The involvement of associations in the business of taxi operations, including the different money collection methods, makes the incumbent executives resist vacating their positions even where they have been voted out of office.
“In certain instances, money collected is for the benefit of these executives. The incumbent executives also generally avoid calling for elections that may have them voted out for fear of losing power and money.
“Associations have also become a law unto themselves by collecting money from members daily or weekly and the money is not accounted for properly. It is money they call imali yebakede (money for the bucket).”
He said another problem that has always been known was the conflict that rises between different associations fighting for routes to load passengers. This, he explained, was worsened by law enforcement officials and officials from the Department of Transport who accepted bribes to illegally permit some operators to load passengers where they should not be loading.
Mamabolo said this kind of behaviour by members of his department, policing authorities or municipalities would be investigated and those found guilty would be arrested, even in retirement, because their love for money resulted in taxi violence and deaths of people.
Commissioners Rudolph Lungile Mabese and Hlula Msimang explained that it was disturbing that some members of the police were involved in the taxi industry as secret taxi bosses using third party relatives to hide their involvement.
They said investigations would expose and punish such individuals as there have been instances where state issued firearms were found to have been used in the taxi violence, while some perpetrators were released from police custody with questionable warnings.
With Tshwane being one of the cities hit hard by a series of fatalities due to taxi violence that targeted taxi drivers, taxi bosses and accidentally, passengers, Mamabolo said this report was not just a report just for the sake of saying there is a report.
Mamabolo said this was a first and scientifically backed document that would lead to an implementation plan, following the 2019 Provincial Taxi Summit held in Sedibeng by taxi associations in the province and Makhura and his government.
The report has been submitted to the taxi industry in Gauteng to make their comments, and it will also be presented to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and his team, together with the Gauteng Legislature.
Spokesperson for the Tshwane Taxi Industry, McDonald Makata, said the industry would give its reaction once it has gone through the report.
Mamabolo said he expected to hear from the taxi industry in the next 14 days, and he was aware they would hold their own press conference to speak on it and state where they agree and where they did not agree, which will help build a consensus.