No one in authority stands up to end bloody violence

Almost everyone associated with the taxi industry whispers that violence is out of control, but they complain out loud that no one in authority will stand up to help bring about peace.

And in the absence of controls, maverick operators driven by greed resort to ever more indiscriminate mayhem to corner a slightly bigger share of the market, say drivers, operators, politicians and officials watching the violence spin out of control.

Passengers risk their lives every time they board a taxi because of the recent surge in violence over routes in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape.

Taxi associations blame each other for the slaughter and say the government does not take their concerns seriously.

Associations in Gauteng have gone so far as to call on transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs to close contested routes, even if it costs them their livelihood until someone, anyone, can impose order and root out rotten operators.

As the body count rose last week, the Ekurhuleni Regional Taxi Council called on the MEC to close the blooddrenched contested routes. He responded by suggesting that they "write [him] a letter".

Sicelo Mabaso of Top Six Taxi Association said violence was out of the association's hands.

"The leadership of the taxi industry has no power to arrest anyone," he said. "It is up to law enforcement agencies to solve the issue."

Buti Mahlangu of the Ekurhuleni Regional Taxi Council said that associations should deal with conflict before it turned into violence. But he also dodged responsibility by saying their role ended when grievances were submitted to the transport registrar.

Mahlangu said sending a letter to Jacobs would be a waste of time, but they would do it anyway.

"He told us that he negotiates and does not close down routes. If we had the power to close down routes to stop the violence, we would. But we don't."

Taxi violence has flared again around the country, almost everywhere over contested routes.

In Rustenburg, North West, two rival taxi associations fought over the Mogwase-Moruleng route last week.

On Monday, frustrated operators refused to ferry commuters unless the provincial transport department resolved the matter.

On Wednesday, Bernard Africa, the Northern Taxi Council's chairman, said the associations had agreed to call a truce until they met North West transport MEC Phenye Vilakazi on Monday.

Since the recent surge of taxi violence more than 10 people have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal alone.

Drivers, passengers and even passers-by have also been shot at in Western Cape and Limpopo.