The KwaZulu-Natal government will force taxi associations to adhere to dispute resolution mechanisms specific to the industry. Picture: Facebook

Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal government will force taxi associations to adhere to dispute resolution mechanisms specific to the industry, the provincial legislature heard on Thursday afternoon.

“We are…going to force taxi operators to adhere to well-established dispute mechanisms in the taxi industry regardless of their affiliation to any taxi association or grouping,” KZN’s MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, told legislature in Pietermaritzburg.

The mechanisms were spelled out in the conditions for granting of operator’s licences, he said.

Kaunda was tabling a report about Saturday night’s taxi massacre on the R74 near Colenso. The ambush -- in which over 250 bullets were sprayed into the vehicle -- left 12 people dead.

The taxi was transporting drivers who were returning from the funeral of a taxi boss who belonged to the Johannesburg-based Ivory Park Taxi Association.

The man had been buried in Greytown on the same day and some of the victims of the massacre were believed to be his drivers.

“As government we are not going to hesitate in applying the law to ensure that people’s lives are safe and that the industry is stabilised,” said Kaunda.

“At the same time, we will continue engaging with Santaco [South African National Taxi Council] and the affected associations and encourage them to resolve their disputes through dialogue.”

Saturday night’s attack sparked nationwide condemnation and led Police Minister Bheki Cele to establish a special task team to make quick arrests.

One man was detained on Tuesday and appeared at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for possession of illegal ammunition. He will appear again on 1 August.

Kaunda said unknown assailants, who used an unidentified getaway car, ambushed the victims. Police had also established that high calibre weapons were used in the shooting.  

The killings were not connected to the current taxi feud in the Ladysmith region between the Sizwe and Klipriver Taxi Associations, which, on its own, had resulted in 61 deaths and the suspension of both associations’ operating licenses, said Kaunda.

Turning his attention to that dispute, Kaunda said the licence suspensions were extended in June after being put in place in December 2017.

“We [extended the sanctions] because the initial six months of suspension on long-distance taxi operations in Ladysmith was coming to an end, without the two associations signing a peace agreement to work together.”

He said since the December suspension decision, “there has not been a single violent incident reported”.

The Department of Transport would continue monitoring the situation on a daily basis and investigations on all outstanding cases were continuing, said Kaunda.

“As government, we cannot allow a small group of criminal syndicates to hold the taxi industry at ransom.”

The KZN and Gauteng inter-provincial technical task team formed in 2014 had been expanded to include Mpumangala, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Free State, said Kaunda.

In that forum, the focus was on community dialogue, mainly in hostels, intelligence sharing and enforcement of regulations in the taxi industry, amongst others.

“As the province of KwaZulu-Natal we will continue using this forum to strengthen our engagements with our neighbouring provinces to curb crime and violence in the taxi industry,” said Kaunda.

African News Agency (ANA)