NEWS & ANALYSIS

Ladysmith taxi violence: Mbalula must urgently intervene - Alf Lees

DA MP says roads into town blockaded and buses burnt

Ladysmith taxi violence: Mbalula must urgently intervene

The DA unequivocally condemns the blockading of roads into Ladysmith and the burning of buses this morning and last night. These actions are a direct consequence of the Transport MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda’s unprecedented banning of all mini-bus taxis of members of Taxi Associations. These are the negative consequences that the DA warned about in December.

In December the DA warned that the unilateral banning of all local mini-bus taxis was not the answer to the violence and murders associated with some taxi operators. This action has brought hardship on all the commuters into Ladysmith and the Alfred Duma Municipality in general. This hardship has been made worse by the negative impact on the economy of the area and the consequent impact on the poor.

The timing of the blockade has clearly been planned to coincide with the gearing up of businesses after the holiday period as well as with the opening of schools for the 2018 year.

The taxi industry plays a vital part in transporting commuters to and from their homes, schools and places of work. This industry is an integral part of the economy of Alfred Duma Municipality and facilitates the few jobs that are available to our people in an economy that has been all but destroyed by the destructive policies of the ANC. The few busses arranged by the ANC to transport commuters simply did not meet the needs of our people.

Reports are that the business in Ladysmith was 35% lower during the period since the taxi ban was implemented. This has had and will have dire consequences for the poor.

The high-handed step to ban all taxis associated with the two taxi associations in Alfred Duma taken by MEC Kaunda has now backfired as we warned that it inevitably would do.

A blanket ban on the hundreds of taxi operators and drivers who are associated with the two taxi associations is a clearly unwarranted punishment of innocent operators and drivers who have had absolutely no participation in any violence at all.

To make matters worse the police authorities last week started stopping private motorists using their bakkies to transport desperate commuters. Whilst road safety is essential, it is somewhat surprising that despite months having passed it seems that the police have as yet not charged anyone with the reported 71 deaths apparently associated with taxi violence. Surely that must be their focus.

Despite a month having passed since I wrote to the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, to request details of the action that the SAPS have and are taking in the Alfred Duma Municipality to arrest and charge all the persons involved in the violence and murders apparently resulting from rivalry in the taxi industry in the municipality I have not even had an acknowledgement of receipt.

Even if Mbalula has been on holiday in Dubai the situation is so serious that he should have given the matter his full attention.

The DA once again calls on Minister Mbalula to comply with his constitutional obligations and to urgently intervene.

Statement issued by Alf Lees MP, Uthukela Constituency Head, 8 January 2018