A TAXI in which two people died on the M1 South in Johannesburg on Wednesday has been described by authorities as a "moving coffin" and a "death trap".
"I cannot believe that a taxi operator could put people into something like that. It was not supposed to be on the road," said JMPD spokesperson Edna Mamonyane.
"It was a total disrespect for human life."
The accident was yet another in a growing number of unroadworthy minibus taxis involved in fatal crashes on the roads across the country in the past few months.
More than 36 deaths and 120 injuries were recorded in the past three months.
The taxi involved in Wednesday's crash belonged to the Ennerdale Taxi Association (ETA) and was transporting people from Vlakfontein. The accident happened at about 2pm between the Booysens and Xavier streets off-ramps.
The shock absorbers of the vehicle were tied together with wire and the brake fluid pipe was detached from the brakes and was blocked.
The front windows of the vehicle were not working, the wheels were of different sizes and parts of the dashboard were held together by Sellotape.
"This means that the car had no control and it could not brake. Often these drivers use the gears to brake. The vehicle shook when it moved and the rear tyres did not turn," said Mamonyane. "This accident was waiting to happen."
The taxi lost its wheel and crashed into a barricade, killing a 20-year-old female passenger, who was flung out of the vehicle. A second passenger, a man in his 30s, died later at the scene.
The driver and 13 other people were injured and taken to hospital. Most have since been discharged, but three are still under observation.
The taxi, a Toyota Hi-Ace 2000 model, was owned by RS Hlongwa of Johannesburg.
Mamonyane said Hlongwa had gone to the Loveday Street JMPD premises where the minibus was being kept, demanding his car back, but his request was denied as investigations were continuing.
Top Six Taxi Association chairperson Sicelo Mabaso, under whose body the ETA falls, said: "I feel guilty about these deaths. It's a disgrace on the association."
He said the onus was on the taxi owner to make sure that the vehicle was in a roadworthy condition.
Gauteng DA spokesperson on transport, Neil Campdell said: "Some of these taxis are coffins on wheels."
"This unnecessary loss of life was due to negligence by both the driver and taxi owner. And next month, taxi operators plan to march against the government for introducing safe public transport," said Mamonyane. - Additional reporting by Martha Mbamba.