fake taxis on the roads

SHOCKER: A taxi that looks like an ambulance. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE.  11/10/2009. © Sowetan.
SHOCKER: A taxi that looks like an ambulance. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE. 11/10/2009. © Sowetan.

TAXI commuters in Thembisa in Ekurhuleni and Alexandra and Edenvale in Johannesburg are at risk. They are being ferried about in taxis that were once ambulances.

After a tip-off that some of the taxis on the roads were converted ambulances, Sowetan launched its own investigation.

Over two days, we discovered that some of the vehicles that did not look like conventional taxis resembled ambulances. We spotted eight of these taxis in Alexandra and Thembisa.

We verified their registration numbers with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD). A source in the department confirmed these shocking details:

l One of the taxis had registration plates belonging to a Corsa bakkie. The owner did not answer his phone

l Another taxi's number plates were those of a bus; and

l The third taxi did not exist.

Verification of the five remaining number plates could not be confirmed by yesterday.

The roadworthiness of the taxis could also not be verified.

Our investigation also revealed that all eight taxis have double rear doors and reflective stickers at the back.

A closer inspection of one of the taxis revealed that it had self-fitted seats and elevated driver and passenger seats.

There was no information on the number of passengers the taxi is supposed to carry.

JMPD spokesperson Inspector Edna Mamonyane said police could investigate only after a charge had been laid.

Alexandra Taxi Association spokesperson John Mojela said last night: "I'm not aware of such vehicles being used, but if they are out there the owners will lose their permits.

"We can't have illegal cars ferrying commuters, because its dangerous. Each vehicle must meet the standard requirements of the Transport Department.