no easy ride for taximen
ANYONE who doubts that Johannesburg Metro police's Operation Nomakanjani is in full swing should try crossing a road in the city centre against a red traffic light.
Scofflaws breathed a sigh of relief this weekend after conflicting statements from officials about whether Nomakanjani had been suspended or not, but those who ran into Sergeant Jack Mabaso and his team soon found out that for these grim-faced cops it was business as usual.
At 6am yesterday the officers gathered at Mary Fitzgerald Square where Mabaso barked out instructions on the day's plans.
But as they assembled, a crash involving two taxis occurred at the corner of Jeppe and Sauer streets nearby while tardy cops were still reporting for duty.
A Toyota Quantum had jumped a red traffic light and collided with an Inyathi that was crossing the intersection. Three people were injured and taken to hospital by ambulances.
All that the taxi driver could say was that his taxi's brakes had failed.
While medical personnel and a few Metro officers cleared the scene, Mabaso and his main team began their work at the intersection of Bree and Von Weilligh streets - next to the Noord Street Taxi Rank.
By 8am, they had collared 12 drivers for charges ranging from reckless driving to skipping red traffic lights. The errant drivers were squeezed into a police van.
One taxi driver vainly tried to avoid arrest by speeding from the cops but was soon held up by a traffic jam - and two Metro police officers pounced on him.
"Don't hold me, I won't run away," the forlorn driver cried as the cops grabbed him by his trousers and bundled him into a waiting van.
The taxi driver continued complaining to the resolute Mabaso from the back of the police van.
"How can you treat us like this? "You are not a real police officer," other taximen joined in a chorus of derision.
By 8.30am the van was packed to capacity and two police sedans were roped in to house more errant drivers.
Mabaso called for another van, which was full by 9am. The team had arrested 48 drivers, and Mabaso declared himself a happy man.
"As you can see, we are on course and we won't stop law enforcement," he said.
"Either you comply or face the consequences," he warned.
l Representatives of the taxi industry will meet Metro police managers today to discuss drivers and taxi owners' concerns with the campaign.