Residents of KwaNongoma heeded the call by the South African Police Service, to participate in an Imbizo on taxi violence, hosted by the Police Ministry.
Police Minister, General Bheki Cele led the crime prevention meeting which saw residents call for police to intensify their efforts to protect them from violence emanating from ongoing taxi turfs war.
Some taxi operators also opened up about attacks and violence suffered allegedly at the hands of rival taxi associations.
The community engagement also saw officials from the Department of Transport in the province put a plan, together with the South African Police Service, that aims to ensure the safety of taxi operators and commuters. The rolling program will include a team of investigators to work on the murder cases connected to taxi violence in the area as well as track and trace suspects or persons of interest who can assist authorities in resolving some of the cases. 12 people have been killed in KwaNongoma since 2012. These murders are all connected to the taxi disputes.
The Police Minister says the bloodshed must be stopped with immediate effect.
“The Transport department in this province must work harder in ensuring that only taxi operators who have valid route permits, operate in the area and those who don’t are removed from the system and not given any room to intimidate and cause harm at taxi ranks or on the road. As the police, we will continue to stamp the authority of the state and bring about public order, for the sake of this community members, especially the women children and the elderly that are reliant on getting to their destinations, safely.”
The Police Ministry is also encouraged by the willingness of the two main taxi associations, to meet with the SAPS and transport officials in a bid to end the violence.
It believes such meetings between government and the taxi industry, can go a long way in ending bloodshed and bring about stability in KwaNongoma and surrounding areas.
The Crime Prevention Ministerial Imbizo heads to Ulundi on Saturday, 12 June 2021, to engage the community on stock theft and other crime concerns.