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Violence ridden Tshwane taxi industry welcomes provincial arbitration office

A scene of a shootout between rival taxi operators in Pretoria. Picture: File

A scene of a shootout between rival taxi operators in Pretoria. Picture: File

Published Dec 13, 2021

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Pretoria - The Tshwane taxi Industry has welcomed the “big announcement” by the Gauteng government to establish an arbitration office to resolve disputes in the taxi industry without violence.

This comes as Tshwane has for years been among areas in the province besieged by violence and bloodshed, which left many dead.

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The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, last year granted MEC for Public Roads and Transport Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo the power to place taxi associations experiencing violence and infighting under administration with immediate effect.

The court order was hailed by the industry comprised of the SA National Council and the National Taxi Alliance. It saw executive committees of associations like the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association dissolved, and assets and bank accounts seized.

It proved to be effective to the extent that wherever the department took over, operations resumed peacefully, but there were still violent incidents, which prompted another intervention. As a result, the department announced that it was establishing the Public Transport Arbitration Office in line with the recommendations of Judge Jeremiah Shongwe, who led the Commission of Inquiry into Taxi Violence in Gauteng.

“This office, chaired by a retired judge, will assist in providing an independent, credible and transparent platform through which disputes will be addressed, especially disputes around the public transport routes,” Mamabolo said during a virtual sitting with the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

“We expect the Public Transport Arbitration Office to be operational early in 2022.”

The department has also placed a moratorium on new applications for operating licences, while it is working with the CSIR to audit minibus taxi operators in Gauteng.

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“This is critical especially in the minibus taxi industry, where disputes over the operation of routes often resulted in violence and loss of life,” Mamabolo’s office said.

“The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is helping us create a digital database so that we know who exactly owns minibus taxis in our province. We are in the process of capturing biometric data of minibus taxi operators and the drivers, but we are also mapping out all the routes on a digital platform,” added Mamabolo.

The spokesperson for the Tshwane taxi industry encompassing the National Taxi Council and National Taxi Alliance, otherwise known as the Greater Tshwane Regional Taxi Council, McDonald Makata, said this was a great and overdue feat. “We’ve always said that there were very few cases where the people killing our members are arrested and justice served.

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“We really welcome the department and the MEC to come and mediate. This is their duty. That is what the government should have done a long time ago. However, we as a taxi industry we are happy.”

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-general Elias Mawela said one of the reasons many perpetrators of taxi violence got away was because of the taxi industry itself failing to come forth with information. In most cases the shooters were paid by members of the industry to carry out the assassination of industry members, he said.

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