The minibus taxi industry in South Africa hardly makes any news headline in the media for good reasons. Well, that is mainly the case. The industry’s main critics are the mainstream media establishments and it is no fault their that they always find some negative stories to write about the industry. Violence and total disregard are all features historically associated with the minibus taxi industry. In short, the taxi industry in many instances is the victim of its own actions. The media, rightly so, will not keep a blind eye on those events. But is that only what mainstream media can get out of the taxi industry? Certainly not. To say the big media houses run selective news on the industry would be an understatement.
The last time any good story graced the pages of some newspapers was in 2019 when SA Taxi – a wholly integrated transport business company owned by JSE-listed Transaction Capital – sold a stake to the South African National Council (Santaco) in what some so-called industy experts hailed as the best BEE transaction to have ever happened in the taxi business.
During this Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in the country a lot has been been happening within the minibus taxi industry that ordinarily would deserve to be in the pages of some newspapers. The SA Taxi and the African Development Bank recently announced a R1.9-billion loan agreement through which the company would address its industrial and taxi industry responsibilities. In its statement SA Taxi said part of the money would go towards helping taxi clients who battle to get funding from the traditional banks for their businesses. Only one or two media platforms – a private TV channel and a daily newspaper- reported and carried the story about the deal in their news bulletins . The media in general is not obliged to report on any stories that break out. But there are stories that just cannot be ignored when they happen.
But should this come as a surprise? Perhaps not. The history of the media in South Africa is littered with notions of selective preferences mainly informed by the market segments or target markets. Potential public and private sectors advertisers would also play a big role on what is carried in the news contents of their media partners. But when it comes to the taxi industry it should be said that a number of leaders within the industry know what is a good story and what is not.
The Gautrain has made a return to operation since the country went into lockdown in late March as the country continues to keep going and slowly negotiate its way up back to normal life under stages 5 back to 1. But South Africans have been warned: any reckless behaviour on the part of South Africans failing to observe government Covid-19 coronavirus regulations may see the country revert back to level 5 – a situation that no person would like to be in.