New task team to tackle taxi violence

A NEW multi-disciplinary police task team has been set up to investigate ongoing taxi violence on Umlazi's MNR route near Durban, which has claimed five lives since June.

The announcement yesterday came on the eve of a last-ditch meeting with taxi operators today in a bid to resolve the conflict.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport, community safety and liaison Willies Mchunu said the task team had been created because residents in the area had lost faith in the local police being able to deal decisively with the conflict.

"Many taxi owners and passengers are now living in constant fear for their lives."

Mchunu said he had had a series of meetings with various stakeholders, including the MNR Public Transport Passenger Association, over the last two weeks.

"It became apparent that all stakeholders have lost confidence in the ability of the Umlazi SAPS to make any breakthrough in their murder investigations and other cases reported to them.

"It therefore became necessary for us to intervene in this fashion.

"We want to see this taxi business grow, and in the process, it must cement its pioneer role as the first and leading black empowered industry."

Mchunu assured stakeholders that the new police task team would work painstakingly to uncover those responsible for the continued violence.

"Members of the police task team will show no mercy, no fear nor favour in their endeavour to find the perpetrators of these dastardly deeds.

"No matter how slow and painful, we must root out criminality and anarchy in the taxi industry. To achieve this we must engage each other honestly," Mchunu said.

Most taxi operators in the area refused to comment ahead of today's meeting but those who spoke to Sowetan welcomed the task team's intervention to try to halt the ongoing violence.