Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo has warned Sedibeng taxi operators to stop threatening the lives of commuters.
This follows an incident of violence where a bus was allegedly shot at and set alight in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg.
According to preliminary reports, an Ipelegeng bus driver was allegedly attacked by occupants driving four taxis and two private vehicles in Zone 12, Sebokeng on Tuesday.
Mamabolo has condemned the incident and warned that lawlessness in the public transport sector will not be condoned under any circumstances.
The MEC has also called on the law enforcement agencies to speedily bring those involved to book.
“We are deeply worried that if the perpetrators of this incident are not brought to book, we might see a surge in torching of other public transport modes, something that has the potential to destabilize the province. We call on law enforcement officials to prioritise this matter,” Mamabolo said.
Addressing Sedibeng taxi operators during the launch of taxi ranks support committees on Wednesday, Mamabolo encouraged the taxi leadership in the area to isolate those involved in [criminal activities], and assist law enforcement officials with their investigations.
“Violence and destruction of property will never resolve challenges as they only serve to inconvenience other operators and put the lives of commuters in danger. The torching of the bus and intimidation of bus operators clearly shows a total disregard for the rule of law.
“This should never be tolerated and those involved have clearly crossed the line. We will ensure that rule of law prevails and triumphs over the rule of the barrel of the gun,” Mamabolo said.
The bus company has since ceased operations, affecting over 3 500 commuters in Orange Farm, Evaton, Sebokeng, Meyerton and Bophelong, areas in the Sedibeng District Municipality.
Following his address to the Sedibeng taxi operators, MEC visited Ipelegeng Transport Trust bus depot where he encouraged the company to resume operations on Thursday.
“We will not be intimidated by taxi warlords. Taxi associations and their leadership should renounce the violence and stop intimidating and putting the lives of commuters in danger. If allegations that taxi operators have a hand in this are proven to be true, we will not hesitate to put the associations involved under administration,” Mamabolo said.
The MEC also challenged the leadership to assist law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of this, and ensure that perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted.
He further emphasised that the taxi operators must appreciate competition in the transport sector and cannot, in any way, force commuters to use their services.
“Commuters have an unalienable right to choose any mode of transport and exercise their choice. We call upon the taxi industry to appreciate efforts of building a gun-free industry and refrain from using killing machines, as these end up harming the very same people that initially brought them into the taxi industry,” Mamabolo.
MEC Mamabolo added that the department has always opened its doors to all transport operators to raise issues without resorting to violence,” the MEC added. –