The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the recent arrests of would-be- perpetrators in the ongoing violence within the uMzinyathi Taxi Association.
The body has been fighting to ward off illegal operators wanting to use its routes between uMzinyathi and Ndwendwe since June last year. This month police minister Bheki Cele has called a stakeholders meeting that includes the provincial transport authorities in a bid to stop the violence. There have been 11 reported taxi-related deaths and 25 cases of attempted Murder linked to the disputes within the routes.
Sifiso Shangase, a spokesman for Santaco in KZN said that they welcomed the intervention by both national and provincial officials to help solve the problem. He was, in particular, referring to three suspected hitmen killed by police during a shootout and the arrest of a woman suspected to be the driver of a bakkie used in one of the shootings along the disputed routes.
“It seems as if there are in-fightings within the association concerned as well as people with no legal operating documents wanting to get in and operate. But now that even national office want to intervene and work with provincial structures that is welcomed,” said Shangase.
He said that in the past the Santaco tribunal resolution committee, working with the late MEC for KZN transport authority Bheki Ntuli to help solve the problem during which they had agreed that the solution would be to close the rank. But that never happened as that action would compromise members in good standing.
“That was going to be totally against what other good members with legal operating papers, working well and helping our people – were doing in helping their businesses run legally,” said Shangasi.
“The closure of the rank was not going to benefit our people at all,” added Shangasi.
The Sunday Times newspaper quoted minister Cele as saying that he had it in good authority that some of the perpetrators of the violence in the area were inmates operating and calling shots from prison.
“This is why justice must step in and ensure such criminal activities don’t take place in prisons. Taxi feuds can’t be a SAPS issue. While police are making arrests, transport must fix other issues plaguing the industry. Overall, the transport department must act decisively in shutting down this death route that is putting the lives of innocent people, especially women and children, in harm’s way,” Cele said.
Kwanele Ncalane, also quoted by the same newspaper, said that shutting down the route would be well suited to what the illegal operators wanted, denying those with legal documents the right to earn a living.
“Of we shut down this route, it’s what these illegal operators have been advocating for since these random killings began. The people who are going to suffer are legal operators and commuters who need transport. It would be tantamount to playing into the hands of those who are illegal, who are perpetrating violence because they want to force the government to shut down the route,” Ncalane said.