'YOU CANNOT OWN TAXIS'
KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for transport, community safety and liaison Willies Mchunu has warned government officials and members of the police against owning taxis.
He said he was going to table a proposal to the cabinet to amend the law to stop it happening.
He was reacting to recent violence in the taxi industry in the province.
"Government officials and politicians cannot be public transport operators," he said.
Mchunu said the involvement of public servants in the taxi industry was making it difficult to control violence, particularly when members of the police were themselves involved.
Last week two taxi owners were slain in separate attacks, sparking fears of another bloodbath in the industry.
Mchunu met waring factions on the South Coast last Friday.
He said yesterday that it had emerged from discussions that policemen and other government officials were owners of taxis. He said the ownership conflicts led to bloody confrontations in certain areas.
"When politicians or officials own taxis it could influence the outcome of the issuing of the permits," he said.
Mchunu also came down hard on perpetrators of taxi violence and said he was going to oppose bail applications for 12 suspects arrested in connection with the killing of Port Shepstone taxi driver Sfundo Mzindle.
Mzindle was gunned down in the early hours of Thursday morning. After this killing seven taxis were impounded pending an investigation and 12 people were arrested and will apply for bail today.
Mchunu held talks on Friday with the two rival associations, the Bambanani and Gamalakhe associations, which are at each other's throats over the taxi rank and routes between Port Shepstone and Margate.
The meeting resolved that a special team of 150 police officers, formulated to deal with taxi conflicts in the province, should be stretched to Port Shepstone and that issues relating to the route in question should await the outcome of the tribunal.
Mchunu warned that if there were any disruptions he would not hesitate to close the affected routes or suspend operations of either one or all associations causing interruptions.
He said that the municipality and department of transport would put together a comprehensive plan clearly outlining the stand allocations for the various associations. A special team of police working jointly with the public transport enforcement unit, popularly known as Shanela, will ensure that there i the rule of law is being adhered to.