Johannesburg - A young woman has told of her harrowing sexual harassment ordeal by two drivers at different taxi ranks in Joburg, just hours apart.
Nondumiso Mkhwebane, 25, was sexually abused allegedly by a taxi driver who forcefully opened her shirt and looked at her breasts at the Wanderers taxi rank on Wednesday. The incident happened at about 12.30pm.
About five hours later, she was allegedly attacked by another taxi driver who touched her breasts at the Bree taxi rank.
“I took a package to be transported home to Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal. I had already given the driver the package and money for transport when he opened my shirt and looked at my breasts.
“When I told him to stop, he threatened to beat me up. I was so scared,” said Mkhwebane of Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, who agreed to being named.
The victim said while she was being threatened, a queue marshal intervened.
“The driver said I was too forward and that they (drivers) are used to seeing women’s breasts.
“After the marshal spoke to him, the driver then came back to me and apologised. He said he would help me one day when I do not have money to send a package home,” Mkhwebane said.
She took a picture of the driver and posted it on her Twitter page.
Mkhwebane said while she was still in shock, a driver at the Bree taxi rank touched her breasts at about 5pm the same day.
“I had no energy to deal with him. I just walked away,” she said.
SA National Taxi Council president Philip Taaibosch said he would look into the matter and then provide a full response when he had all the details.
Mkhwebane said she did not open sexual harassment cases because she did not think the police would take her seriously.
“I didn’t think it would be followed up. I was also shocked that none of the people at the rank helped me. They just stared. I was shaken,” she said.
Some Twitter users shockingly questioned her dress code as if it was to blame for the unwarranted attack.
@SandileSaan asked: “What were you wearing?”
@Randy_katekani replied to Mkhwebane’s post: “Before we judge as to who is wrong and what not, how were you dressing? Was the attire socially acceptable?”
Mkhwebane dismissed the Twitter users as ignorant.
Another user, @SBu_Mseleku, encouraged her to open a case.
“Also lay a complaint with the taxi association as well as Rank Management. This thing of women being treated as objects must be fought from all fronts.”
@tshegofatso25 said: “I’m gonna be hush, so laying a charge on Twitter is going to do what to that situation? Is nice to lay a charge on Twitter police station; get likes! Rather than save many women from that animal? Be responsible and do the right thing!” (sic).
The Sonke Gender Justice community education and mobilisation unit manager in Gauteng, Nonhlanhla Skosana, said the Safe Ride Campaign, which was launched in Gauteng in 2016 to address the harassment and sexual violence of female passengers by taxi drivers and queue marshals, was still in operation.
“The issue of patriarchy is deep rooted. We still have a lot to do. Those who are victimised must not keep quiet.
"I understand when she says that she did not open a case, because most sexual violence victims fear secondary victimisation by police.
“I encourage her to get in touch with me so that I can assist her. Women have every right to wear whatever they want, whenever and wherever,” Skosana said.
This is not the first sexual harassment case at taxi ranks.
In 2008, Nwabisa Ngcukana was allegedly sexually harassed for wearing a miniskirt at the Noord taxi rank in central Joburg. She was sexually assaulted and paraded naked around the rank by several taxi drivers.
The attack on Ngcukana sparked widespread outrage, with several marches organised in support of her.