​Taxi violence: Santaco decries lack of justice

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has called on the public, government and the president to demand justice following the recent spate of violence that has gripped the industry.

On Sunday, police confirmed that eleven people were killed in an ambush shooting on the R74 in KwaZulu-Natal, which is now being investigated as an incident of taxi violence. Four others were seriously injured, and two people survived the attack without sustaining injuries.

The victims were allegedly all drivers for the Johannesburg-based Ivory Park Taxi Association.

Following the attack, Parliament’s portfolio committee on police condemned the killings, suggesting that the incident is evidence of a crisis within the taxi industry.

“The incidence of last night is a further indication that violence in the taxi industry has now reached crisis levels in the country and multi-sectoral intervention strategy must be implemented to effectively deal with this scourge,” committee chairperson Francois Beukman said on Sunday.

Beukman blamed the increase in illegal firearms for heightened incidences of taxi violence.

But Santaco chief strategic manager Bafana Magagula told the Mail & Guardian that the issuing of permits to multiple taxi associations operating on the same route is the main cause this violence. This, Magagula said, indicates a lack of efficiency within the department of transport.

Magagula’s argument is supported by statistics compiled by the South African Police Service in its 2016/2017 annual crime report.

According to this data, taxi violence was found to be mostly related to “route disputes, internal power struggles within and between taxi associations and revenge attacks in which hitmen were specifically hired to eliminate victims”.

These statistics also showed that the highest number of incidents were recorded in Gauteng, which accounted for 40% of all murders associated with taxi-related violence and regard 0.4% of the overall murder figure. Gauteng was closely followed by KwaZulu-Natal, which accounted for 38.9% of all murders linked to taxi violence.

At the end of May a taxi war in Cape Town claimed the lives of 13 people and wounded several others. The war was between taxi owners from Wynberg and Delft, represented by the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations. The violence was over operating routes.

READ MORE: Taxi peace is cold comfort

Magagula also said that the fact that investigations into incidents of violence rarely end in arrest is another reason

“The culprits of this violence must be brought to book and properly dealt with,” he said.

Magagula argued that killings related to the taxi industry do not garner the public attention they deserve because it is an industry that serves mostly black South Africans. “Those affected by this violence are black and this is why the media will lose interest by Friday,” he said.

According to Santaco there are more than two million minibus taxis in the country‚ generating more than R90-billion every year. More than 15-million South African use taxis, the association said in 2015.

Magagula added that he would like to see intervention from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who he says has been silent on the issue.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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