Gauteng govt gets interdict to stop ‘taxi war zone’ in Joburg

Taxis parked outside Bree taxi rank in Johannesburg, 22 June 2020, during a strike over government's R1.135 billion relief fund. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The taxi industry must appreciate that the period of armed gangs and guns parading at taxi ranks is a thing of the past, MEC Jacob Mamabolo said.

Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo has been granted an interdict against a taxi association that has been disrupting taxi services in Johannesburg through the “barrel of the gun and the law of the jungle”.

In a statement, the Gauteng provincial government said Mamabolo won “an important court order that represents a victory for stability in the taxi industry and the commuting public”.

The interdict against the Johannesburg Minibus Taxi Association was granted late on Tuesday.

“As of 1 July, the Johannesburg Minibus Taxi Association has been preventing the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association from using the Johannesburg Taxi Rank on [the] corner [of] Lewds and King George streets. Taxis belonging to the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association were expelled from the taxi rank by heavily armed men who occupied and took over control of their taxi rank,” the statement read.

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“[Mamabolo] attempted to intervene by holding a meeting with representatives of both associations and even offered the parties a mediator who would assist them in the resolution of this matter. The Johannesburg Minibus Taxi Association, however, rejected this intervention. Throughout the process though, the MEC had been pleading with the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association not to take matters into their own hands and retaliate as he was going to approach the courts in order to get a court order.”

Mamabolo commended the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association for its full confidence in a negotiation process and the rule of law, rather than resolving disputes through the “barrel of the gun and the law of the jungle”.

‘War zone’ averted

“It is thanks to the maturity of the leadership of the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association that we avoided the CBD of the City of Johannesburg being turned into a war zone, which could have threatened the lives of members of the public, commuters and taxi operators. We are confident that law enforcement agencies will prevail over this gun-wielding and heavily armed gang forcefully and illegally occupying the taxi rank,” said Mamabolo.

The order was granted by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, interdicting the Johannesburg Minibus Taxi Association from preventing, intimidating or interfering with the taxi operations of the Johannesburg Bara Qwa-Qwa Transport Services Taxi Association.

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The order is effective as of 14 July until set aside by any other order that could be obtained by the Johannesburg Minibus Taxi Association or any other interested party.

“Mamabolo urges all parties to respect the law, especially the court order. He further urged leaders of the taxi industry to appreciate that the period of armed gangs and guns parading at taxi ranks is a thing of the past, further calling on the leaders of the taxi industry to swiftly begin a transition to the new normal of a smart gun-free taxi industry in Gauteng province,” the statement read.

Earlier this week, Gauteng’s major taxi industry structures – the South African National Taxi Council Gauteng and the Gauteng National Taxi Alliance – signed a historical agreement committing to end taxi violence in the sector.

In the agreement, they mandated Mamabolo to act decisively against “problematic taxi associations that continue to pose a threat to life and limb of the commuting public and members of the industry”.

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