Cash was more important than life - taxi head

Published Jul 22, 2001

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By Fana Peete

The president of the South African Local and Long Distance Taxis and Buses organisation, Jotham Msibi, has for the first time acknowledged that for the love of money taxi operators had failed to respect life.

He also called for a fund for relatives of those who died in the taxi wars.

"We have failed to respect the most precious gift from God - life. We have murdered innocent people, and communities can no longer respect us. They call us names that are bad. We must do something for those who have lost their loved ones. Not that we can bring life back, but at least to do something," said Msibi.

Msibi told members of the South African Taxi Council (Sataco) that things have changed and that there is now unity in the taxi industry.

He said taxi operators know the industry better than anyone else. "We know what we have done. We must acknowledge that we have killed, and establish a fund that will help victims of the violence that was perpetuated by us.

"It is painful for women to lose their husbands and for children to lose fathers, as now they are without bread on the table."

Speaking at the same occasion, Transport Minister Dullah Omar said it was a great pity that the industry that should have empowered black people had been divided by rivalry and conflicts that led to the loss of life.

Omar said the industry was on its feet and all it needed was to remain unified and to conduct business in a peaceful atmosphere. "Your business must adhere to democracy and do away with the warlords. Transport commuters safely and make them travel without fear.

"I want to assure you government has no economic interests in your industry. Recapitalisation has been designed to ensure that all vehicles on the road comply with safety specifications. No vehicle will be registered after 2004 if it does not comply with these requirement. We care about the safety of our people."

Sataco president Thomas Muofhe agreed that there had been no democracy in the industry. He said a taxi violence victims' fund would bring taxi people closer to their communities.

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