Safe ride for women!

2017-02-23 06:00
Dumisani Rebombo and ,Aviwe Mtibeni, both of Sonke Gender Justice, flank Philip Taaibosch, president of Santaco, during the Safe Ride Campaign which was held in Gugulethu last Thursday.PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

Dumisani Rebombo and ,Aviwe Mtibeni, both of Sonke Gender Justice, flank Philip Taaibosch, president of Santaco, during the Safe Ride Campaign which was held in Gugulethu last Thursday.PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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Taxi operator organisations together with the community joined forces to highlight the scourge of harassment and abuse directed towards female commuters at the hands of drivers.

The event was held at the Gugulethu Square Mall last Thursday.

Sonke Gender Justice together with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) converged on the mall to g

highlight the plight of the women.

Called the Safe Ride Campaign, the campaign comes after a reported string of incidents where some female passengers were allegedly sexually assaulted and became victims of various incidents at the hands of drivers of local taxis, mostly known as Amaphela.

Philip Taaibosch, the President of Santaco strongly condemned the reports that a number of female passengers are constantly victims of abuse by taxi drivers.

“I do not understand how a taxi driver can become a rapist to his passengers. We want money and to see that our passengers who are our bosses, are safe. How would you feel when people call you a rapist and you cannot be trusted by the community.

We must report the perpetrators. This must come to an end. Let us have a joint responsibility. Passengers should feel safe when they board our taxis. We are joining hands to ensure that our taxis are friendly to women, children and everybody in the society,” Taaibosch said.

Taaibosch said there are about 550 000 taxi drivers in the country and that they ferry about 16 million passengers daily.

Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi, communication officer at Nyanga Police Station said they are aware of a white Avanza with tinted windows which is terrorising the townships.

She said a woman was raped after boarding a white Avanza from Samora Machel in the first week of February.

Sitshitshi said they are also aware of an Avanza with the same description with occupants who go around houses pretending to be looking for a place to rent.

She said they then rob those families of their belongings.

She said they are still investigating and that they are planning to engage with the taxi industry about the matter.

Dumisani Rebombo, unity manager for Sonke Gender Justice said the behaviour of some taxi drivers is concerning.

“Violence in taxis is wrong. Women get assaulted simply because of what they chose to wear. We say things like that must fall. We understand that some women who become victims in taxis do not report it. Let us be our sister’s keeper,” Rebombo said.

Zoleka Mali, counsellor for Mosaic, said she counselled three females who were allegedly raped in “Avanzas” in February alone.

“There are three females that I have counselled already this month. They were raped in a white Avanza with tinted windows.

One victim was driven to a bush not far from Siqalo (informal settlement) where she was raped. The other one boarded an Avanza from Gugulethu to Nyanga and she was raped in the car. I understand that the culprit was later arrested. Both incidents took place around 5pm,” Mali said.

Nobuhle Malunga, centre coordinator for National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) at Karl Bremer Thuthuzela Care Centre, encouraged victims of rape to utilise their services which include medical care for free.

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