LET’S HAVE SOME PEACE AND GOODWILL AMONG TAXI OPERATORS : FEARS FOR THE SAFETY OF DALISU SANGWENI

For as long as there has been taxi violence in the KwaDukuza/Maphumulo/Kranskop region there have been allegations (some from within the police) of collusion between taxi operators and certain police members who are believed to take kick backs from the taxi bosses. Taxi problems are intra- as well as inter-association. In KwaDukuza a number of operators allege that they faced death because they refuse to pay protection money to Stanger Association bosses. One of these was Nkosinathi Xaba who, in March 2010, made a statement to the police about being under threat of death from taxi men operating in collusion with the police. Shortly afterwards he was shot dead by a police member who has never been brought to book. A number of his associates, including Dalisu Sangweni, have been keeping a low profile since then. Sangweni now claims that he is in serious danger of being killed by a Stanger Taxi Association official, M, acting in collusion with the police.

M has apparently opened a case of attempted murder against Sangweni at Kranskop. Sangweni, who claims he has not been in Kranskop for years, firmly believes that he will be arrested and killed by members at that station acting in collusion with M. He says this is the fourth spurious case that M has opened, or been involved in, against him. The first, a case of murder, was thrown out of the high court. The other cases, of attempted murder, were also withdrawn. There were attempts to kill him when he went to court, says Sangweni.

In September 2012 Sangweni was shot and injured near the KwaDukuza taxi rank. Other operators with him narrowly escaped injury. One of them was Nkosinathi Mthethwa, who was shot dead earlier this year. Following the shooting Sangweni’s associates went to report to KwaDukuza station where, they allege, they were followed by the men who shot them, including M. The cases which were opened are under investigation by the Taxi Task Team but there have been no arrests. M is also alleged to be implicated in the recent violence between the Stanger and Dolphin Coast association.

Sangweni is not the first taxi operator to claim that arrests are orchestrated in order to kill them. The station commissioner at Kranskop, the Cluster Commander at Greytown, and Provincial and National SAPS management have been apprised of Sangweni’s fears and asked to ensure that any arrest should only take place in the presence of Sangweni’s lawyer, and provided there is sufficient evidence. If it is necessary to arrest Sangweni they have also been asked to detain him in Durban or Pietermaritzburg.

Sangweni’s fears are yet another indictment of the lack of trust by far too many South Africans in the police – a lack of trust that, for some, is so extreme that one’s life is seen to be in danger. The context in which this case against Sangweni has been opened is one in which the police frequently arrest people without sufficiently good reason. It is also one in which there is evidence of police complicity in taxi violence. When, in 2008, 42 guns which were exhibits in taxi-related cases were stolen from the kwaMaphumulo station a senior police source confirmed that it must have been an ‘inside job’