The second in command at the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), its chief strategic manager, Bafana Magagula, on Tuesday told the commission of inquiry into taxi violence that he has heard a recorded clip of an inkabi – hired hitman – bragging about the alleged involvement of some police officers in some of the hits within the taxi industry.
Magagula told the commission that these police officers allegedly receive a cut of 25% of the fee paid towards izinkabi – hired hitmen – allegedly for opening a murder docket after a hit, and the docket then goes missing.
Magagula told the commission that some members of law enforcement agencies are part of taxi associations, which is not permitted because they are employed by the government.
Fighting for leadership positions within taxi associations and the collection of tariffs through the “bucket system”, or money that is not accounted for, were some of the main reasons for taxi violence, Magagula told the commission.
He told the commission that he was aware of an arrangement in one taxi association where its executive members demanded to be paid R50 daily before a taxi could operate and that this association had about 400 taxis. So, when one does the maths, annually this totals to a lot of money which is not accounted for.
The commission heard on Tuesday that Santaco was of the view that another contributing factor for violence within the industry was how existing members of taxi associations grossly inflate their joining fees, with the excess money paid by newly joining members then shared among the existing members.
Magagula told the commission that Santaco’s leadership has engaged with associations, calling on them to desist from this practice as it leads to fights within the industry.
The commission heard that Santaco has made a presentation to the department of transport asking that the latter stop issuing new operating permits because the introduction of new taxi operators results in the dwindling of profits that can be shared, which leads to conflict.
Magagula said the council has also noted a trend of pensioners who use their pension payouts to buy taxis and join the industry and relevant associations, which also eats away at the profits that can be shared among operators and ultimately causes conflict.
He told the commission that when he became chair of a taxi association in the 1990s he was approached by some within it who asked that he should foot the bill for the cleansing of izinkabi by traditional healers before and after a hit, which he refused, angering some within the association, while he received threats following his refusal.
The commission heard from Magagula that in Gauteng there are about 170 taxi associations, 40,000 operators and 60,000 taxis.
The commission’s spokesperson, Koena Moabelo said the inquiry was able to confirm with the department of transport that there are 178 taxi associations in the Gauteng province, but could not confirm the number of operators and taxis.
Magagula’s testimony comes a day after that of Santaco president, Phillip Taaibosch, who on Monday told the commission that there was a lack of political will in the Gauteng province to act against taxi violence.