Government addresses violence in Mamelodi

Friday, July 3, 2015

By More Matshediso

Pretoria - Gauteng Premier David Makhura says violence in the taxi industry has increased in the province since last year and it is a matter of great concern to government.

He said a number of people have been killed in different areas due to the violence. “There are taxi violence hotspots in Tshwane, and Mamelodi is one of them,” he said.

Premier Makhura was briefing the media in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, following this week’s attacks on commuters and bus drivers by minibus taxi drivers following the introduction of Autopax bus services.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport signed a three month contract with Autopax to render services in Mamelodi, Midvaal and Kathorus after Putco informed the provincial department about its intention to cease operations in these areas.

Autopax is a state-owned entity and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and is operating the bus routes on the same timetables and rates as previously operated by Putco.

Police were deployed in Mamelodi to escort buses busses passing through the area after a bus from KwaMhlanga was stoned passing through Mamelodi on Thursday.

On Friday morning, in another incident, a person was shot and four others were injured in a stampede, and the driver was also injured. 

Premier Makhura called on law enforcement authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of these actions are brought to book. He said government will not allow taxi operators to threaten the community.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that Mamelodi is stabilised,” he said.

Police are hot on the heels of those who were involved in the violent acts and were continuing monitoring the situation.

“We have agreed with community leaders in Mamelodi that government needs to do more to bring calm to the area, and the police and law enforcement agencies will conduct an Operation Fiela especially in areas of high rates of crime and instability to restore calm.

“We want to ensure the community of Mamelodi that order will be restored here. We will not allow anyone to hold the community at ransom,” said the Premier.

Earlier in the day, the Premier held a meeting with affected stakeholders. He said representatives of the taxi industry who attended the meeting made it clear that they do not want Autopax to operate in the area.

“As government we have a commitment to provide public transport on the routes that Putco has been operating. Taxis are operating normally and busses should also be able to operate normally.

“Government’s view is that commuters are our primary focus and they have a choice. They can’t be forced to use one mode of transport,” said Premier Makhura.

He said commuters should continue to exercise their right to choose the transport that they want because their choices are based on reliability, price, and convenience.

Government will not be forced by taxi operators who resort to violence to pull out Autopax. “Autopax is going to continue to operate here. People will choose whether they will use buses, rail or taxis,” he said.

He said Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi and Tshwane City Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa have been engaging with the taxi industry and will continue to do so to deal with the matter.

“We are fully committed to ensure that the taxi industry is part of our transport system and those who need help are assisted, but we are not going to allow violence to be used as a means to achieve those goals,” he said.

National Department of Transport Director General, Pule Selepe, reiterated the Premier’s sentiments that government will continue to engage with the taxi industry.

He said government will look at the proposal submitted by the taxi industry but appealed for a violence free environment while their proposal is being considered.

A public meeting is to be held on Sunday in Mamelodi to give the community a chance to engage on issues relating to transport solutions. -