'We can't allow lawlessness' - Mbalula warns taxi industry

Taxi commuters at Baragwanath Taxi Rank where taxis are back to full capacity in Soweto.
Taxi commuters at Baragwanath Taxi Rank where taxis are back to full capacity in Soweto.

Minister of transport Fikile Mbalula has warned the taxi industry to refrain from breaking the lockdown regulations as the government considers its demands.

Mbalula was addressing the media on Monday where he stated that the government will not contend with lawlessness while he was lobbying the National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC) to allow taxis to ferry full loads of passengers.

“My plea to the taxi industry is that let us not promise war everytime we differ about something. We appreciate the difficulty faced by the industry and it has set us on a collision course we don't need. Everytime we differ, we should not promise [each other] war,” Mbalula said.

“You can't dare the state and say we will show you our muscle, we will fill the streets and render the country ungovernable.” He said he was ready to listen to the taxi industry’s grievances, but his decisions would be guided by the NCCC.

Mbalula warned that the state would need to take action against those who deliberately transgressed on the lockdown regulations.

“South Africa is not a banana republic. We can't allow lawlessness and we must all live with the parameters of the law even if you don't agree with the minister of transport," Mbalula said.

Mbalula was responding to the South African National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) stance to resume loading passengers at full capacity while also resuming inter-provincial operations without permits.

Santaco’s president, Phillip Taaibosch, said the association rejected the department of transport’s R1,135bn relief fund which they considered to be too little for the losses they have suffered during the lockdown period.

Taaibosch also said they were also demanding that all taxis that were impounded at the start of the lockdown be released.

“We will not accept any form of impoundment. Operators will have no choice, but to park all their taxis countrywide until the impounded taxis are released and we are allowed to continue with our work.”

Taaibosch added they would still adhere to health and safety regulations by wearing masks.