If asked, the vast majority of people in this country would agree that the taxi industry is a law unto itself. The complete disregard for rules and regulations – not to mention the rights of others – seems to be part of the DNA of drivers, as well as owners and officials.
Sadly, that is something we’ve come to expect and, in many cases, ignore … because no-one in authority in this country – be it law enforcement or government – has the guts to rein in these thugs.
The latest spate of violence – from the murders on the East Rand earlier this month; to the nine killings in Cape Town this week and a dangerous firefight between rival factions in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on Tuesday – is more evidence that this sector is not only out of control, it is a threat to our security as a nation.
That may sound unduly alarmist, but consider this: the violence is witnessed by many, either in person or in the media – and seldom is there any action taken, let alone judicial processes initiated. That, by itself, sends a strong message that violence is an acceptable – and almost risk-free – method to settle differences.
Just as worrying is the possibility for “collateral damage”, when innocent civilians and commuters will get injured or killed by the guns of the warring factions.
How many bodies of those innocents will it take before the government steps in?
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande and the police must arrange ongoing and random roadblocks – and they must disarm and lock up those with illegal weapons and impound the vehicles which are unroadworthy or operating without the necessary permits.
At the same time, there must be a national summit of owners, associations and the authorities to thrash out an equitable route and fare system.