Passengers at risk in 'gang tax' incident in the ghetto
The reporter, who cannot be named for safety reasons, says the event is suspected to be related to gang tax, where taxi drivers are forced to pay gangsters to use routes.
“Yesterday morning I got into a taxi that would take me straight to work. I live on the outskirts of the area, so I had to travel with the taxi into the neighbourhood so it could fill up and then we would head onto the freeway towards the city.
“We drove through the area from my end to the other end. On our way back, we noticed a commotion, where about 10 taxis were parked blocking off the road and then they stopped our taxi.
“They had some words with our driver, he tried to negotiate telling them he just wanted to drop us in town and he would be back to join what looked like a meeting.
“Unfortunately they would not have it.
“A man opened the taxi door and told us that we would have to get out, and start walking to find an alternative way to get to town.
“Our driver continued to attempt negotiating, then they sternly told him: ‘If you drive you will get bricks thrown at your van. We have to stand together, these gangs cannot keep taxing us every day’.
“The driver accepted defeat and pulled over. After I heard the threat I was also determined to get out. In that moment I looked around me and realised I was far from home and I had valuables with me.
“Quickly my instincts told me I had to stick with the other passengers (about four of them) to keep myself safe.
“There was a guy, very bubbly who just wanted to talk to me, so I braved his bad breath and stuck to him like glue as a strategic move in case some thugs took a chance.
“We were walking out of the area. As we were walking I spotted two guys close to a familiar gang territory. I assume their job is to be a look-out. Even though I grew up in the area and I consider myself tough, I am also not stupid. I am not ignorant to the fact that drugs are real, people get robbed every day.
“I started praying, I did not want to be a victim of crime today.
“As if God just heard my cry I looked around and there was a taxi. He probably bypassed the commotion as he was driving on the highway and not through the neighbourhood.
“I got to town safely, but never again will I take a taxi into the neighbourhood. I will wait for one coming out, even if it means I won’t have the most comfortable seat, my safety is worth the sacrifice.
“Life in the ghetto is a funny thing. There are days that you are absolutely in love with the sense of community that you couldn’t picture yourself living anywhere else.
“Then there are moments that the reality of gangs and crime hits you like a ton of bricks. A reminder that it’s a dog eat dog world and only the fittest of the fittest will survive.”