‘Group’ behind taxi violence

2015-07-29 08:32
Willies Mchunu

Willies Mchunu

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THE provincial government “strongly believes” they know who is co-ordinating the sporadic taxi violence in province.

Willies Mchunu, MEC for the Department of Transport, Safety and Community Liaison, told the KZN Legislature’s transport portfolio committee they “know the source” of what is driving taxi violence throughout the province.

“We believe someone is managing this taxi violence and strategically instigating it where it is necessary. There is a grouping we think is responsible for manipulating this who have always had direct and indirect links [to the industry]. At the present moment it seems they sit and plan with others and unleash [the violence]. But we are dealing with it,” said Mchunu.

He said while taxi violence had been quelled in Newcastle and Port Shepstone, Maphumulo, on the KZN North Coast, was their biggest concern.

“The thorn in our flesh is the taxi violence in Maphumulo and we don’t believe it is the result of the perceived battle with its neighbours such as KwaDukuza [Stanger], Mandeni and Dolphin Coast [Ballito], which are all relatively stable. The real problem is within the Maphumulo taxi association. The cabinet has ­approved the use of extensive intelligence-led law enforcement [in the area]. This process is on the way.

“Cabinet has resolved that if there is nothing that is helping we must close the routes and the ranks [in Maphumulo].”

Mchunu said tension within the Maphumulo association between legal and illegal operators was part of the problem while the “root cause” was the collection of money and private security companies, often heavily armed, providing protection at taxi ranks.

“We have found the rank is critical. Associations have tendencies of bringing in their own security and they take over the rank. So if someone else wants to topple the one association for control of the same rank they bring their own [heavily armed] security and then a war breaks out.”

He said the ranks belong to municipalities and that they must take control of them, including the security aspect.

“They must ensure security is tight, ­including fencing at the ranks and installation of camera systems that have numberplate recognition cameras. Cabinet has approved that where the municipality does not have the immediate capacity cabinet can assist.”

He said a “new problem” in Durban was also being addressed.

He was referring to the reportedly hostile taxi route and rank takeover on the South Coast by one of the province’s biggest taxi operators, the Gcaba Brothers.

The Sunday Times reported recently that President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Mfundo Gcaba, was accused of leading a hostile takeover of routes on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast.

Gcaba has been accused of spearheading the takeover of taxi routes through Durban’s Sonke Long Distance Association.

He is alleged to have already “annexed” routes in Highflats, Umzimkhulu, Ixopo, Umzinto and Jolivet.

Mchunu said the imposing of some taxi associations onto others was illegal and that the department of transport would meet with the relevant taxi bosses to “engage them on their wrongfulness”

Read more on:    kzn  |  taxi violence

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