#SafeTax­isNow re­sponds to at­tacks on women

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE nokuthula.zwane@inl.co.za

IN RE­SPONSE to taxi rape cases re­ported in Joburg, the Soul City In­sti­tute for So­cial Jus­tice has launched a #SafeTax­isNow cam­paign.

It is a na­tional taxi char­ter to cre­ate a safe pub­lic trans­port sys­tem.

This fol­lows re­cent re­ports of a woman who was raped in a minibus taxi in front of her 10-year-old son, and Jeanette Cindi, the preg­nant woman who was gang raped and later killed by a taxi gang.

“We felt as a so­cial jus­tice or­gan­i­sa­tion, we can­not just fold our hands and not do any­thing about it. Those were women’s lives,” said Soul City’s ad­vo­cacy man­ager Ma­tokgo Maku­toane yes­ter­day.

“The ma­jor­ity of black women are at risk of be­ing sex­u­ally ha­rassed and as­saulted while com­mut­ing in taxis. They are de­pen­dent on taxis as a form of trans­porta­tion and have no other choice,” Maku­toane said.

She ap­pealed to South Africans and civil rights groups to con­trib­ute to #SafeTax­isNow.

“Just know­ing who your driver is, is im­por­tant for a woman to feel safe. So if the name of a driver is writ­ten on the taxi or in­side the taxi as she en­ters the taxi,” she said, it would help, adding that the in­dus­try needed reg­u­la­tion.

“How­ever, San­taco (the South African Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil) told us that there were bar­ri­ers to reg­u­lat­ing the in­dus­try. This char­ter should stip­u­late the ac­tions the De­part­ment of Trans­port and taxi as­so­ci­a­tions should take to guar­an­tee women’s safety while ac­cess­ing taxis,” said Maku­toane.

Through a se­ries of so­cial me­dia plat­forms, the in­sti­tute col­lab­o­rates with Amandla. mobi, the Soweto Women’s Fo­rum and the Dai­lyVox to ad­vo­cate trans­for­ma­tion.

To­mor­row, Soul City will hold a night vigil at the Booy­sens Po­lice Sta­tion where the ma­jor­ity of vic­tims are turned away when re­port­ing rape cases, ac­cord­ing to Maku­toane.

Na­tional Taxi Al­liance (NTA) spokesper­son Theo Malele said they ad­vo­cated an in­crease in vig­i­lance by the po­lice and driv­ers.

Sub­scrib­ing to pub­lic trans­port safety, taxi as­so­ci­a­tions and al­liances have said that the safety of women, chil­dren and the el­derly needed to be pro­tected.

“Ev­ery ini­tia­tive that speaks to the safety of women is more than wel­comed by the al­liance. We will sup­port the or­gan­i­sa­tion, espe­cially af­ter the grue­some death of the preg­nant woman and her friend two months ago, ” said Malele.

To en­sure a safe pub­lic trans­port sys­tem for women and chil­dren, the al­liance has been con­duct­ing meet­ings to in­tro­duce a tech­no­log­i­cal el­e­ment to taxi safety, he said.

There were dis­cus­sions about hav­ing a base cam­era in taxis. “It is im­por­tant to note that the taxi in­dus­try was in­volved in the ap­pre­hen­sion of the seven sus­pects re­spon­si­ble for the woman’s death.

“This is not a taxi in­dus­try prob­lem, but it is more of a so­ci­etal prob­lem that needs to be ad­dressed,” Malele said.

Mean­while, Gaut­eng Com­mu­nity Safety MEC Siza­kele Nkosi-Malobane and the Leg­is­la­ture Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe led a hu­man chain around the leg­is­la­ture precinct to high­light the abuse of women and chil­dren. This was as the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment sought to mo­bilise men to be pro­tec­tors of women and chil­dren.

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