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Pretoria – The taxi industry in Mamelodi has been freed from the hands of violent people who bullied officials, collected unjustifiable money and used violence to deal with those who challenged them.
MEC for Roads and Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo yesterday introduced the new executive structure of the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association, which had previously been put under administration.
The MEC had approached the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an order giving him power to place taxi associations experiencing tension under administration.
Hettie Groenewald, a qualified lawyer, was deployed to the helm of the Mamelodi taxi industry during a time when 20 people were murdered in three years.
She said: “When I started my duties I found that the association had no money in the bank accounts.
“Assets in the form of patrol vehicles bought by the association were unaccounted for and utilised by people for their private purposes.
“When these vehicles were eventually retrieved they were damaged to such an extent that some had to be sold on auction.
“There was no proper bookkeeping system in place, and money was not accounted for to the members of the association. Members did not know what they were paying for. The association lacked transparency and the participation of women in the daily affairs of the association was limited,” Groenewald said.
“The offices of the association burnt down some time ago and all records including a constitution were destroyed in the fire. The regulatory regime of the association was lacking. The members’ list was not updated. Operating licences were found to be expired with no new pending renewal applications,” she said.
Mamabolo said: “Immediately when they appointed Groenwald we were able to physically visit 15 families that lost their loved ones and to check how they were coping with what happened.
“There was a really high rate of murder here in Mamelodi prior to the administration. When we introduced the administration we were intimidated, threatened and told that this would not work and it would not see out its full period.
“Today the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association has held elections and elected nine new leaders made up of men and women. What this tells is that the model of placing taxi associations under administration where there is threat to human lives or commuters or taxi operators works.
The new chairperson of the association, Ben Maredi, said since the government placed the structure under administration, it was stable and there had been no loss of life.
He said: “This association is no longer captured. We got rid of those people who were causing tension and forcing their taxis to load up to 10 times a day when other operators only loaded just once or twice a day.
“I think the plan was to keep frustrating the industry to a point whereby the aggressive ones would eventually just tell us there is no more work for us to do.
“The MEC gave us a list of expectations and we plan to meet them and maintain stability here.”
Mamabolo added: “We are happy because we have not heard about illegal collections of money. We know that this was a war zone. With the administration now completed we have a template, a best practice, a benchmark, for the rest of the other taxi associations.
“No taxi association can argue and sustain its argument that an administration such as the one we have here will not deliver the results. This model will be replicated everywhere and it is better compared with completely closing taxi ranks and frustrating commuters and taxi operators.”