'Taxi body turns blind eye to me'
A blind taxi operator from GaRankuwa is blaming the United Taxi Association for the collapse of his once flourishing business.
Peter Letlape, 54, who started his taxi business in 1986, said that he had seven taxis and enjoyed equality when his taxis were affiliated to the South African Long Distance Taxi Association. He said that things changed in 1998 when satellite taxi associations were declared autonomous structures.
"I was treated unfairly because I am blind. The association is supposed to provide operators with drivers that are registered with and trained by the association, but it has not provided me with a single driver in nine years.
"They gave me all sorts of excuses when I asked why they don't give me drivers. I realised that I was being treated unfairly when the association's executive members influenced my drivers to damage my vehicles."
Letlape, from the township north of Pretoria, said when he fired a driver the same driver would be recruited.
He also said that he contributed to the purchase of vehicles used to respond to accidents when taxis were involved, but no vehicle was ever dispatched when he needed one.
He said that he paid a R10000 joining fee to the association and R30 a week for each taxi, but enjoyed no benefits.
Letlape said that in 2005 he had problems with Sars for not paying tax, though the taxi business was not operating.
"I did not have drivers in 2005 and the association did not bother to find out why my taxis were parked off. I pleaded with them to provide me with drivers. I am still waiting.
"Owners of the vehicles involved in accidents with my taxis claimed for damages and because I could not pay them, two of my vehicles were seized by sheriffs to cover costs.
"I only have one taxi, but I do not have a driver. I am a family man trying to make an honest living but the association is hellbent on seeing me begging for pennies on a street corner," said Letlape.
He said that because he was not making any money from his taxis, he used the money from his spaza shop to repair his vehicles. This put a strain on the shop and now that business has also collapsed.
Deputy chairman of GaRankuwa United Taxi Association, Lord Matentji, said he was not aware of Letlape's grievances. He said he would call an executive committee meeting today to discuss the problems.
"For now I am not in a position to comment," Matentji said.