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Motorcade by Tshwane taxi drivers declares war on crimes against drivers, commuters

A motorcade was organised by the taxi industry to raise awareness to crime committed against drivers and passengers. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

A motorcade was organised by the taxi industry to raise awareness to crime committed against drivers and passengers. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 14, 2021

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Pretoria - Taxi drivers in Tshwane, who are fed up with the spiking crime rate and feel let down by the authorities, have warned the public about armed criminals who pose as operators in order to terrorise commuters.

They led a motorcade through the CBD yesterday to raise awareness of crimes committed against their members as well as commuters.

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Numerous private vehicles and taxi associations joined the motorcade from the Old Putco depot in Marabastad to various hotspots of such crimes, including Pretoria, Pretoria North, Wonderpark, Rosslyn, Erasmus and Soshanguve.

Spokesperson for the taxi industry in Tshwane, McDonald Makata, said the criminals robbed operators, took their taxis and, at the worst, killed their victims. These crimes had been carried out since August, spiking in recent weeks, he said.

“The city centre is their hub. These robbers sometimes get into a taxi in the CBD and as you are going to townships, they take out their firearms and order the taxi to stop. They then search everybody and take phones, money and groceries,” said Makata.

Stephens Mathebe of Transport Operators Pace Initiative said the motorcade was about showing residents that the industry was against the crimes, which peaked in November.

“We want commuters to know that we support them and we are against these crimes. Some criminals were arrested in Hammanskraal using a minibus that was not a taxi, but because they were using a minibus, people thought they were a part of us. We hear rumours that these things are also happening in Ekurhuleni.

“People do not trust taxis anymore and they seem to use other modes of transport. It means our business is going to other people because of criminals. People are using e-hailing services while we wait in the taxi ranks. These crimes are hurting our business.”

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Makata said people should know that all taxi operations in the country were regulated and marked with the sticker of either the National Taxi Association (NTA) or SA National Taxi Council (Santaco). He urged commuters not to board a minibus that did not have a sticker.

“We are going to deploy our members on the roads to do stop and searches, to make sure our commuters and operators are safe. More than 100 cases have been reported. That is why we have to stand up,” said Makata.

The taxi operators said they were planning to meet again in much larger numbers and move towards other hotspots, such as Mamelodi.

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Meanwhile, taxi drivers in Soshanguve will take to the streets today to intensify their fight against similar crimes. They are expected to join a convoy from KK Park and make various stops, first at Batho Plaza, then Mabopane Station, and ending at Soshanguve Crossing.

The taxi drivers operate around Soshanguve, Mabopane, Ga-Rankuwa and Wonderpark. They have urged passengers to avoid taxis with fake registrations, and also to make them aware of suspicious-looking vehicles.

“We want to promote good drivers and distribute new stickers. The convoy is not only about crimes inside taxis, but crimes committed in the community, too,” said organiser Lucky Baloyi.

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“This thing of taxi drivers and passengers getting mugged is of great concern. People are complaining about a red vehicle that is terrorising passengers; this red car is the main problem.”

He said people no longer wanted to ride in their vehicles as they feared being robbed. “Most of the time when a passenger gets inside a taxi, they tend to be busy on their phones, and criminals take advantage of that. The criminals also look for valuables, as passengers open their bags or wallets when paying the taxi fare."

He said they were not happy with the everyday complaints about taxi robberies. “We want to save our jobs, some of us depend on the taxi business for our livelihood.”

Although drivers were also victims, some are the culprits. “Other drivers are robbing passengers with the help of their friends. They use taxis with stickers of taxi associations to lure passengers inside the taxi to rob them.”

Pretoria News

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