KwaZulu-Natal taxi drivers are taking a stand against gender-based violence (GBV) and are appealing to women to seek their protection should they ever be in trouble.
For 63-year-old taxi driver Genesan Naidoo, GBV is a problem that no women should face alone.
“No women should feel like they cannot come to us for help. We as drivers are on the road all the time, sometimes we are on the road more than police — so if any person is in trouble or is being abused, they can come to us and we will make sure they get the right help and protection,” he said.
Naidoo, who has been driving taxis for the past 38 years in Chatsworth, south of Durban, said men need to start taking responsibility for their actions and begin educating the younger generation on how to treat women properly.
“It starts at home. Men need to teach their boys about how to behave and act. By just thinking they will learn everything at school is not enough — we need to start talking to our boys and teaching them how to be proper men.”
Naidoo was speaking during a huge GBV awareness campaign taking place across the province, the result of a partnership between the department of social development and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).
The campaign was launched at the weekend in the community of Mtwalume, on the KZN south coast, which had been plagued by a series of gruesome murders which are thought to have been the work of a serial killer.
On Monday, social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza and members of Santaco visited taxi ranks in Pinetown and Chatsworth, where they addressed drivers and commuters on their role in helping fight against GBV.
“We are here to say enough is enough on gender-based violence. We have seen a number of women march and take action, it is high time that we see men coming forward to see where they can assist and do their part,” she said.
Khoza said that together with Santaco they had declared war on GBV.
“They [Santaco] have shown that they are not only just interested in money — they have their passengers at heart.”
KZN Santaco spokesperson Sifiso Shangase said their partnership with the department was of great importance, given the impact they could make on GBV.
“We know for a fact that Santaco is mainly patriarchal — it's dominated by males as an industry as a whole. We believed that education is important — even though [there are] individuals who are still tribalists or traditionalists — we are saying to them, times have changed and it is important for us to respect each other.
“As a taxi industry, we need to protect our own — especially within our space. That is the word we want to get out there.”
He urged women and children to seek assistance or help for any taxi driver, rank manager or taxi operator.