'Hunger for power, money' leading to deaths in taxi industry

Peter Dhlamini is on the stand at the commission in Parktown investigating taxi violence.

FILE: Taxi drivers belonging to rival taxi associations barricading of several streets in the Johannesburg CBD by taxi drivers. Picture: EWN Traffic.

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng Transport Department’s director for registration and monitoring said the number one cause of conflict in the taxi industry was the hunger for power.

Peter Dhlamini is on the stand on Wednesday at the commission in Parktown, Johannesburg, investigating taxi violence.

He is in charge of conflict resolution in the taxi industry in Gauteng.

Dhlamini said power and the ownership of routes were the biggest causes of conflict that often led to deaths in the taxi industry.

“Associations that were using almost common routes were merged by agreement. Those who happen to gain more power in the elections happen to suffer because the ones who are not happy say they are no longer part of that.”

Justice Jeremiah Shongwe wanted to know what the taxi operator’s reward is in these positions of power.

Dhlamini insists that his department has not been trained to resolve conflicts, making it more difficult to deal with taxi associations.

'NO HELP FROM SAPS'

Dhlamini told the commission that the police refused to intervene in criminal matters in the taxi industry and constantly referred them to the department. Dhlamini said patrol cars, known as the squad, were a law unto themselves.

“A bakkie from North West will bring people to a funeral service. They will be impounded by a squad car and they will have to pay for it.”

Replying to Shongwe, Dhlamini said the police never intervened.

“SAPS will say it’s a transport matter when it’s clearly criminal. How do we sit down with criminals?”

Dhlamini said illegal acts were enabled because the department had no capacity to have its own law enforcement agency.

The commission has adjourned and will resume on Thursday.