SOUTH African commuters are fearing for their lives with the rate at which the taxi violence has increased in the country. Taxi violence contributes to a significant percentage of our crime stats in South Africa.
WHAT IS TAXI WAR?
The term “taxi war” is usually used to refer to the turf wars fought between taxi associations and individual taxi drivers since the 1980s. The taxi wars are still raging even today and now they have escalated to a point where they are out of control. Soweto taxi commuters were recently forced to use buses after taxis stopped operating due to the two taxi ranks that were closed. Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismali Vadi, decided to close the taxi ranks because he feared for the lives of Soweto taxi commuters. The taxi war has left Soweto commuters in fear as they have now fallen victim to shootings between two taxi associations – the Nancefied Dube West Taxi Association and Witwatersrand Taxi Association. “The number of innocent people dying is increasing on a daily basis due to the war and now people in Soweto are concerned,” says a concerned community member. “Our right to safety and security is non-existent. It is heartbreaking to see innocent people losing their lives in taxi violence. The latest being a passerby and a security guard who were recently shot dead in Soweto. The shootout also left two taxi owners seriously wounded.”
POLICE MONITOR THE SITUATION
The police have confirmed that there has been an increase in cases that have been reported on the taxi violence in Soweto. “We are closely monitoring the situation in Soweto and we have patrol cars around the affected areas. We are still implementing strategies to stop these wars,” says Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant Kay Makhubela. But a number of Soweto commuters still say that they will not use taxis until they are assured about their safety. “I don’t want to lose my life for something I don’t know about. Until the government and the South African Police Service ensure our safety, I will not take a taxi,” says one taxi commuter. The situation at present is uncertain as the Department of Roads and Transport is still looking to find a solution that will ensure the safety of commuters when the affected taxi ranks start operating again.