Santaco speaks on violence in taxi industry

THE body count reached 12 in the on-going taxi industry feud. This follows Saturday’s massacre on the R74 between Colenso and Weenen, in northern KwaZulu- Natal, which saw 11 killed and four injured.

Violence in the taxi industry, including within the South Coast, is a long standing issue which permeates through most of its structures.Spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council in the region, Mandla Mzelemu, said that, while the Ivory Park Association matter is heinous, ending violence in the industry will require time and sustained effort from all stakeholders.

He said he hoped that the senseless killing of the Ivory Park Association members would serve as a wake up call to others in his industry that the “constant resolve by members to end disagreements through violence and death” was unnecessary and uncalled for.

“People in the taxi industry are very resistant to change. It is a sad reality that we need to attend to as leadership. This is also why I disagree with sentiments that place blame on the police because, when these incidents occur, the police have no way of pre-empting and thus preventing them,” said Mzelemu.

He said the fact that members used hitmen was another hindrance to the plight to put an end to violence.

“Had it been members themselves doing their dirty work perhaps they would, in time, grow a conscious because we are all working together in the industry. However, they hire unscrupulous hitmen who are merely doing a job. You sometimes even find that the same hitman is used by two opposing associations to kill people on either end.” said Mzelemu.

He said some of the reasons for the ongoing taxi wars were money, routes and sometimes disagreements within one association.

“The violent attitude is also prevalent among the drivers that we hire and this is primarily due to the fact that we, as owners, are required to employ someone with a drivers licence, not knowing what kind of other education, personality or behaviour traits they might have,” said Mzelemu.

In response to the heinous crimes, the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service(SAPS) General Khehla Sitole has activated a 72-hour action plan which consists of members from specialized units within the SAPS, including Crime Intelligence, The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (HAWKS), detectives, The Special Task Force and the like to trace and apprehend those responsible for these killings.

“The Acting Provincial Commissioner of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, and his management team are overseeing the investigation into these murders. We will wait for the investigation to advance before speculating on a motive”, said Sitole.

Anyone who might have information that will assist police in combating these senseless killings is encouraged to contact their nearest police station or phone the SAPS Crime Hot-Line on 08600 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated with strictest confidence.

For enquiries contact spokesperson for the National Commissioner Brigadier Vish Naidoo at 082 567 4153