Save our women

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Taxi drivers are hitting back at women since the row over the assault on miniskirted Nwabisa Ngcukana in February this year.

At the weekend the Noord Street drivers vented their anger on another woman whom they assaulted because "women talk too much these days".

They drove the point home on Saturday by beating up 23-year- old Precious Tshishonga.

Tshishonga was in a taxi from Noord Street to her home in Hillbrow after a shopping trip.

"The driver was with one of his colleagues up front.

"The trouble started when I asked for my change because I was getting out of the taxi," said a tearful Tshishonga who still had bruises on the right side of her face yesterday.

She said she paid the R3,50 fare with a R100 note.

When she kept asking for her change all the way to her destination, she was told to "shut up and not act like the so-called 'free women' who make noise and talk too much".

Tshishonga said she was given her R96,50 change in R2, R1 and 50-cent coins.

"When I asked them why they gave me so many coins instead of notes, one of them got out of the taxi.

"He dragged me outside and started slapping me and calling me names," she said.

"He slapped me several times while I was trying to get away. He pushed me and said that I could go and tell the police, but that nothing would happen to him," Tshishonga said.

She was helped by two women from the nearby Hillbrow police station.

Her two rescuers helped her to lay a charge of assault at the Hillbrow police station.

Tshishonga also noted the registration number of the taxi and gave it to Sowetan.

Santaco general secretary Phillip Taaibosch condemned the assault and said his organisation would find the vehicle's owner and attend to the matter as soon as possible.

Spokesman for Gauteng's department of community safety, Dumisani Ngema, said the case should be investigated.

"I will advise the victim to complain to the relevant taxi association since she has the vehicle registration number," said Ngema.

Convener of the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa and Tshwane mayor, Gwen Ramokgopa, said that victims should keep reporting these incidents.

"Our parents, children, and brothers and sisters use taxis and we cannot continue to allow the drivers to be a law unto themselves," she said.

Tshishonga's assault comes after women were indecently assaulted by being stripped naked for wearing miniskirts by Noord Street Taxi Rank operators.

Nwabisa Ngcukana, 25, was indecently assaulted after her miniskirt was torn by taxi drivers in February.

Taxi organisations and the police promised to arrest the perpetrators after protests by women rights groups but no one has been arrested.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) unveiled a Taxi Pledge this month.

According to its president, Jabulani Mthembu, the pledge was meant to encourage taxi drivers to drive safely and to treat commuters with dignity.

The second phase of the pledge, which has still to be finalised, is aimed at improving driver professionalism.