'MEC to blame for taxi war'

The war over taxi routes in Gauteng has become so volatile that taxi driver Mlungu Ngcobo has exiled his family from Edenvale on the East Rand to another province.

Ngcobo sent his wife and children out of harm's way in fear they would become targets of a rival taxi association.

He and a colleague were both shot at two weeks ago in yet another clash between the Lethabong Taxi Association (LTA) and the Greater Germiston Taxi Association (GGTA).

Fortunately, the two bullets that blasted through Ngcobo's taxi missed him. His colleague was less fortunate and died from his injuries.

Ngcobo drives for the LTA. His association has been at war with the GGTA for years over the Germiston route.

"I do not feel safe at all. Every time I leave my house I feel I will be attacked."

He said he was most distressed that the hitmen cared so little for human life, that they attacked him, despite there being passengers in his taxi.

The enraged taxi driver blames transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs for his woes.

"He is not doing anything to protect us. All he says is that we must sort out our problems."

Antony Groening also uses the dangerous routes around Ekurhuleni. He says his association wants Jacobs to close the routes that have led to warfare on the East Rand.

"Transport registrar Sam Ledwaba and Jacobs must step in now and make a plan to stop the killings," he says.

Last week, Jacobs responded to the Ekurhuleni regional council's demand that he close the contested routes as his predecessor, Kgabisi Mosunkutu, had done by suggesting that the taximen write him a letter.

Though their livelihoods are at stake, the bitter operators point out that the MEC has all the authority he needs.

The Johannesburg high court has ordered Jacobs to take decisive action to end the taxi wars. - Kamogelo Seekoei