threat to close noord taxi rank

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Get the taxi drivers who sexually assaulted a woman wearing a miniskirt at Noord Street or we will close the taxi rank.

This was the stern instruction yesterday to the Gauteng police by the provincial portfolio committee.

And taxi bosses accused politicians of becoming crazy with power.

Top Six Taxi Management spokesman Sicelo Mabaso said taxi drivers and passengers had lost lives at taxi ranks but never before had the government come up with such a drastic move.

"I'm not justifying what happened. We have been calling on the department to arrest these murderers but nothing has been done.

"And now that people have behaved in an unhuman manner they want to close down the rank. What is more important, saving lives or rehabilitating people?" Mabaso asked.

The committee yesterday summoned the police to enquire about the progress in the investigations into the attack on Nwabisa Ngcukana, 25, at the Noord Street taxi rank three weeks ago.

They wanted to know what measures police had put in place to ensure that such an incident did not happen again.

Johannesburg Central police station commissioner Simon Mpembe, who was representing provincial commissioner Perumal Naidoo, took the hot seat.

He told the committee that it was discovered that the barbaric practice by taxi drivers had been going on for the past eight years.

He said the problem was that victims of such abuse never reported the cases to the police. He said victims were normally stripped and paraded in public in a humiliating manner.

"The objective is to humiliate the victim," he said.

Mpembe said CCTV cameras at the rank were not well positioned to capture the attackers as it was crowded inside the rank. He described drivers as arrogant people who had no respect for the law.

But the committee was not impressed with the explanation. It demanded that taxi bosses be ordered to bring drivers and marshals who were on duty that day for a parade. The police were given three days to carry out the task or the rank would be closed.