Having heard evidence of a poorly operated licensing system and a conflict resolution mechanism in disarray, on Thursday 13 February the commission of inquiry into taxi violence heard that the Department of Transport was in a state of desperation.
The deputy director for conflict resolution registration and monitoring at the department, Peter Dhlamini, told the commission that the department was finding it hard to keep the sometimes wayward minibus taxi industry on a leash.
Dhlamini said, “The Department of Transport is in a state of desperation. We are struggling to formalise this mode of transport.”
Evidence leader Richard Mkhabela asked Dhlamini to “please expand on the desperation part”.
“It’s not nice to hear of the killing of even a single member of the taxi industry. We are desperate to end the spillage of blood,” said Dhlamini.
Soweto associations Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) and the Witwatersrand Taxi Association’s (WATA) long-standing dispute came to the fore during the hearing on Thursday.
“What is the status of the two associations and the disputed routes?” Commissioner Lungile Mabece asked Patrick Thembela Tutu, assistant director of conflict resolution at the transport department.
“They are operating but we are not sure when the conflict will erupt again. We lack the capacity to check their daily operations but we would assume that since none of them has complained they are still working well with one another,” Tutu said.
The commission heard that apart from matters relating to lack of capacity, a lack of law enforcement was hindering the department. Dhlamini told the commission that the department’s law enforcement unit was moved to the Department of Safety in 2001. Both Dhlamini and Tutu decried the absence of a law enforcement unit in the department.
Tutu said conflict between rival associations normally revolved around minibus taxi routes. He said if the department had its own law enforcement officials it would be able to decisively deal with the conflict.
Another issue that has become clear since the commission resumed is the inadequacy of the current legislation governing registration, monitoring, and conflict resolution.
The commission also sought to confirm if the department was allocating different associations the same routes. Tutu said he was aware of this and that it could potentially lead to further conflict. DM
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