MEC shocked by over 500 taxi violence murders in Gauteng remaining unresolved
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Cape Town – Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo says he was shocked that police had still not resolved more than 500 murder cases related to the taxi industry in the province.
He spoke to The Star following days of running wars between members of the Witwatersrand Taxi Association (Wata) and the Nancefield/Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe).
These taxi associations, which mainly operate between Johannesburg and Soweto, have been battling it out for years over routes and in some instances the fighting has left many people dead.
“We are also still worried that 500 murder cases reported by the commission of inquiry into taxi violence are still not resolved.
’’It means the killers of these 500 people are walking in the streets. This is being said by the commission, not me,” Mamabolo said.
Mamabolo said he was concerned about the militarised nature of the taxi industry and he had even gone as far as getting a court interdict to make sure that some security companies do not operate in the taxi industry.
In most instances, the security companies would be found with illegal firearms and were found to be intimidating passengers and other members of the taxi industry.
“I have applied for an interdict to stop the paramilitary security company of Wata. They are allegedly at the centre of causing chaos in the province. They were found attacking commuters in buses with guns.
“They also complain about their activities destabilising the industry in Soweto. They are a law unto themselves. This is a test case for all private security companies.”
Mamabolo said Johannesburg nearly burnt down due to tensions in the industry and there were no arrests. He said the industry was harbouring a lot of criminal activity, and the fact that most of the time no one was brought to book was a concern.
“On top of this 500, we are not counting cases for which files were closed. Add to that cases where nothing has happened. What are we saying to those people’s families?” Mamabolo said.
He proposed several plans to put the taxi industry in Gauteng in order, including a digital data system that would identify all drivers and owners of taxi businesses.
This would enable the government to know who is in the industry and aid police in combating criminal activity in the industry.
“We need to build a data mine in the taxi industry. I am already starting because we cannot transform the industry if we do not know who is who in the room.
’’We have the best biometric technology and I need that technology in the taxi industry. We will work with Home Affairs,” Mamabolo said.
He said it was important for drivers to get skills training in customer care and some formal education so as to ensure that the taxi industry empowered those who work in it. He also called for greater involvement of young people and women in the industry.
Mamabolo had the following message for the taxi industry: “Please respect human life and you will not become rich through human blood.
’’They can spill as much blood as they can; it will never help them. Please stop these activities that border on contempt of human life.”