SA’s taxis of death

2014-12-14 08:00

They split open like a tin can in a crash and might even expose their passengers to carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than 4?000 Toyota Quantum panel vans on South Africa’s roads have been illegally converted into minibus taxis – and they continue to claim lives.

Before the release of a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into the illegal and highly dangerous practice, City Press has spoken to those whose lives are shattered after they, or their loved ones, were involved in accidents in these vehicles.

Converted panel vans, which are not sufficiently reinforced to carry the weight of passengers, continue to be financed and resold.

Three years ago, former banker Hendrick De Beer laid a complaint at the Public Protector’s office. He sent the pictures and accident reports he sourced to investigators.

Between 2009 and last year, he matched taxi insurance claims to vehicle identification numbers to determine if the vehicles had been illegally converted.

His information shows there were at least 119 accidents – many of them fatal – involving converted panel vans since 2005.

The most recent known fatal accident involving a converted van took place in October last year on a trip from Malamulele, Limpopo, to Joburg. Taxi owner and driver Benneth Hlungwane said a nine-month-old baby had died in the crash.

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