There are many ex-convicts who are operating taxis - Santaco provincial chairperson

Santaco provincial chairperson Johannes Mkonza on Wednesday told the Commission of Inquiry into Taxi Violence that taxi industry was rife with ex-convicts.
Santaco provincial chairperson Johannes Mkonza on Wednesday told the Commission of Inquiry into Taxi Violence that taxi industry was rife with ex-convicts.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Policemen, ex-convicts and people who have been fired by banks are coming in as they please to become taxi owners in Gauteng as there is no proper vetting.

This is according to Santaco (SA National Taxi Council) provincial chairperson Johannes Mkonza who is giving evidence before the Commission of Inquiry Into Taxi Violence on Wednesday.

“There are so many ex-convicts in the taxi industry who are operating taxis. I know a few people who were drivers  then went to jail, came back and became operators… Any Tom, Dick and Harry can become a taxi operator,” Mkonza told the commission.

Mkonza was questioned on the role that the association plays in the process of issuing of operating licenses.

He told the commission that taxi associations give a recommendation letter when their members are renewing or getting new operating licensing.

However, Mkonza said a lot of taxi owners now chose to get the operating license from another taxi owner as this process is quicker and easy.

“You can buy an existing one and go and convert it. That process goes quicker than a person who is applying for a license,” he said.

Some taxi owners, he added, are able to get operating license without obtaining a letter of recommendation from the association.

Mkonza told the commission that taxi associations do not have systems in place to vet those who want to come to join the industry.

He said one big problem in the sector was that some taxi associations do not have executive meetings.

“We do have a few associations in which members just buy cars and go to work. There are associations that operate without management committee. Some of the associations have serious violence and the executive runs and hides and people operate as they wish. In the past few weeks, an association executive resigned due to violence. The province had to take over until elections take place,” Mkonza said.

The commission of inquiry was established by Gauteng premier David Makhura following a summit he held with the taxi industry last year.

Over the years, police, government and taxi bosses have struggled to end taxi violence which erupts now and again in Gauteng.

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