KZN Social Development MEC, Nonhlanhla Khoza; the Social Development Head of Department, Nelisiwe Vilakazi and Santaco provincial chairperson Boy Zondi, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) acknowledging the need to ensure that GBVF is fought in all corners of the province.
According to the MOU, the department will be responsible for educating commuters, taxi rank managers and marshals on GBVF, and services offered by the department.
Santaco will be responsible for the promotion of respectful and non-violent behaviour towards its customers; the prevention of sexual harassment and GBV, and promotion of gender equality and safety of women in taxi ranks.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Khoza said the contribution made by the taxi industry is highly appreciated, and the department is happy to join hands with the taxi industry.
Khoza said the signing of the MOU is a step in the right direction towards cleaning up the image of the taxi industry, which is regarded as violent towards women.
“The signing of the MOU is a clear commitment by both partners to ensure that taxi operators do not look away when women and girls are abused within their operating spaces.
“We are happy that Santaco leadership, together with government, is strongly committed to the fight against the scourge of GBVF.”
Khoza said the department has committed itself to train all those in the taxi industry to know how to deal with GBV.
“Santaco [has] already started with the campaign to end violence directed at women. We also expect other stakeholders to [follow the example] from Santaco,” the MEC said.
Zondi said the signing of the MOU is geared towards ensuring the safety of female passengers.
“This is a marriage with the department. We transport almost 16 million people and it is important that our passengers are safe. We have a responsibility to look into the safety of passengers.”
Zondi said the provincial council has also made recommendations that all taxis have cameras installed inside, and this must become a law.
He said the recommendation for cameras at taxi ranks or malls where taxis operate is aimed at ensuring that criminals posing as drivers get arrested.
“We don’t want to hear that in our taxis, female passengers get raped because she was the last one to jump off at the last stop.
“We want our drivers to ensure that passengers get home safely. We have to drop off a passenger at her doorstep when she is the last one in the taxi,” Zondi said.