Taxi violence plotting

2015-01-26 00:00

A LEAKED document has revealed deeply entrenched issues in the taxi violence ­arena pointing to a wider conspiracy that includes government organs being co-opted into fighting battles for taxi dons.

While the report primarily focuses on the current taxi turf wars between three associations in Ballito, Stanger and ­Maphumulo, experts have admitted that the allegations being levelled are nothing new and that if the pattern continues, sporadic taxi violence spilling into mall parking lots and even residential ­neighbourhoods could increase.

A task force from the Hawks has been drafted in to untangle the mess — sidelining the Taxi Violence Unit based in Prospecton — with the expectation that they will bring fresh eyes to an old problem.

While Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangweni Mulaudzi would only say they “are investigating” when asked if their probe into taxi warfare included looking into police involvement, Mary de Haas — who runs an organisation called KZN Violence Monitor — said the police would need to “look inwards”.

“Taxi violence can happen anywhere. It is very scary. The taxi associations are also protected by private security companies who are not well regulated, yet they have access to dangerous weapons.”

The leaked document — created last year and part of court proceedings in the KwaDukuza Magistrate’s and Durban regional courts to defend Maphumalo and Dolphin Coast taxi associations in relation to ongoing violence over the past two years — points to improper relationships between the Prospecton Taxi Violence Unit (PTV), the leadership of the SAPS KwaDukuza police station and the Kwa­Dukuza Taxi Association as contributing factors to the ongoing violence in the area. They claim, among other issues, that ­charges they have levelled are never ­investigated.

But De Haas said it is not uncommon for violent taxi attacks to not be investigated, calling it a failing of the criminal justice system.

The document says there are “allegations of a third force, through SAPS and political figures having vested interests” in the taxi industry, and calls for the Taxi Violence Unit to be “disbanded and re-constituted with new SAPS members”.

A source in the taxi industry called the allegations in the document “nothing new” and said they were often raised at association meetings, taxi indabas and with government officials.

Yolande Gielink, the attorney for ­Maphumulo and Dolphin Coast, who wrote the document, confirmed the contents of the document, but said: “That information is not for public record and forms part of our case”.

In the past 12 months, taxi violence has been reported in Durban, Ladysmith, Ballito, Stanger, Maphumulo and Mandeni — varying in location from malls, the N2, townships to quiet suburban roads.

The most recent attack occurred in Stanger Manor where 17 hitmen are ­alleged to have ambushed a convoy ­carrying six Maphumulo taxi bosses ­earlier this month.

Three men died, while over 140 bullet casings were found on site.

Recently, the KZN Department of Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said the violence is as much about infighting between associations as it is about elements refusing to see the industry regulated.


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