Killings must end before taxi industry can be transformed - Santaco

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport and community safety Mxolisi Kaunda is briefed by SAPS at the scene of the attack that claimed 11 Ivory Park Taxi Association members.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport and community safety Mxolisi Kaunda is briefed by SAPS at the scene of the attack that claimed 11 Ivory Park Taxi Association members.

In order for the minibus taxi industry to transform‚ the killings must end‚ Santaco says.

Key members of taxi body spoke on Thursday at the memorial service of 12 minibus taxi industry members who were massacred over the weekend while returning to Johannesburg from a funeral in KwaZulu-Natal.

The taxi they were travelling in was ambushed by gunmen along the R74 road between Colenso and Weenen.

Two of the passengers in the taxi‚ which was ferrying mainly drivers‚ survived the ordeal unscathed and three others were hospitalised and discharged on Wednesday.

The Rabie Ridge hall in Tembisa where the memorial service for the victims was held on Thursday was predominantly occupied by men who appeared to all be part of the taxi industry.

The spate of killings made headlines again on Monday when another taxi boss was shot dead outside his house in Alexandra on Monday.

Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch apologised to the families for the sorrow that the industry had caused over the years.

He blamed third party interference for the ongoing violence. "Someone saw that you are becoming powerful. Is it not time that we tell whoever that's doing this that it's enough?

"I'm to blame three institutions - taxi owners‚ government and the media. Those are people responsible for the continuous confusion of where we should be going as South Africa and where should the taxi industry be going‚" Taaibosch said.

Taaibosch denied the claim that the massacre took place due to a fight over the Mall of Africa route in Midrand.

"People who are giving out operating licences on top of operating licences or on top of other people's routes‚ who are they? Who are they working for?" Taaibosch asked.

He called on associations to unite. "As taxi operators we are not playing the game‚ we still want to live like in the apartheid era. We still want to be seen as individual bosses. If we work together we can win‚"

He said he had visited the survivors in hospital Ladysmith and they were doing well.

"They are hurt but they are good. Luckily they were discharged yesterday.

"The gift we can give these drivers who served honesty‚ is everlasting peace in the industry. The survivors were released from hospital yesterday and arrived safely at their homes‚" Taaibosch added.

On behalf of Santaco in the Johannesburg region‚ Ralph Jones said the industry might as well close shop if it wants to continue with violence.

"It's a sad day for us. Taxi people‚ let us stop blaming the government for everything that happens. When will we blame ourselves? Every time we bury we must come back and reprimand but no one listens‚" said Jones.

Jones said the industry needed a peacekeeping mission.

"If this is how we want to do things‚ we might as well close shop. As leaders we lie so much because when you speak the truth you might disappear with the wind. Growing up we were told we will die from a fire hazard or water‚ this was not part of it‚" he said

On August 18 Santaco will host a gathering at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg to pray for an end to the killings in the industry.

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