‘My girl’s taxi trauma’

2018-03-09 13:37
Parents tell why they distrust taxis, Santaco says bakkie ban a mistake.

Parents tell why they distrust taxis, Santaco says bakkie ban a mistake. (File)

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An Imbali woman has sworn on her life that she’ll never let her daughter use public taxis after two Northdale taxi conductors tried to rape her.

This comes after a stand-off on Wednesday between a taxi association, omalume (bakkie transport drivers) and high school pupils.

Security guards hired by the Northern Suburbs Taxi Association (NSTA) prevented omalume from dropping off high school pupils at schools in the northern suburbs on Wednesday. Omalume had to drop the pupils at the Market Square taxi rank where they were forced to take NSTA taxis to school, following an agreement between omalume and the taxi association last month. The pupils refused to take taxis.

The Imbali mother said her 13-year-old daughter was still traumatised after she was almost raped by two Northdale taxi conductors in 2015.

“She was in a taxi and one of conductors took her bag and walked out of the taxi. She followed him, asking that he return her school bag but another taxi conductor came and they dragged her into a house nearby.

“As they were about to rape her, a man who had heard screaming came and rescued her. She walked out of that house wearing only her vest and had her uniform and underwear in her hands.

“She is traumatised about that incident and is still receiving counselling. How can she then be forced to use taxis after that?” she said.

On Thursday omalume were given the thumbs up by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) to continue ferrying primary and high school pupils who attend schools in the northern suburbs.

Bheki Sokhela, Santaco’s uMgun­gundlovu region chairperson, told The Witnesson on Thursday that Wednesday’s incident was “very unfortunate” as Santaco and omalume were in talks to integrate the bakkie drivers into the mainstream transport industry.

He said some taxi owners might have been “impatient” and had not waited.

“What happened yesterday [Wednessday] was not supposed to happen.

“Right now we are compiling a database of local scholar transport associations and the names of the drivers. We will then present these names to the Santaco board and permits will be issued out allowing them to operate legally,” he said.

Sokhela said the agreement was that omalume should continue transporting primary school pupils as they were still young and needed someone to help them get to school and back home safely.

He said a decision that high school pupils should use public taxis was backed by the taxi industry, which decreased the taxi fare of all pupils wearing school uniform to make it affordable for parents.

“Hopefully by the end of the month we will have the lists of all omalume and associations and we can move forward from there, in the meantime omalume must continue transporting pupils,” he said.

Sokhela said the arrangement was not made to abuse parents and pupils, but it was to create a safe and a peaceful transport industry.

Yesterday, members of the KZN Scholar Transport Association met with parents near Market Square where all the scholar transport drivers were urged to register under associations.

The parents raised concerns about the safety of their children while using public transport.

KZN Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said the department was addressing the situation urgently.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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