Taxi war inaction a disgrace
APRETORIA man died this week. He’d been petrol-bombed. Lindelani Mashau’s crime? He was an Uber driver waiting for a fare outside Loftus Versfeld. Mashau is the first documented victim of the steadily intensifying war against the 21st century innovation that has totally disrupted the traditional metered taxi industry.
Instead of welcoming this innovation, which has breathed new life into a transport sector that was effectively dead on its feet, its members have reacted much like the Luddites of old – textile workers protesting about technology that they feared would render them redundant.
History reminds us what happened to the Luddites. The very same will happen to the metered taxi driver sector.
The fear is perfectly understandable, some of the complaints too, but nothing can ever justify the use of violence in order to be heard. The anger has been brewing for months.
Today, there are 15 no-go zones in Johannesburg alone for Uber drivers, chief among them the Gautrain stations, which have long been a place for confrontation between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers and – on occasion – normal civilians waiting to pick up relatives or colleagues.
But nothing has been done. No one has been arrested for vandalising vehicles or intimidating drivers.
The Uber drivers are holding their own management to account for this, but our concern is why there has not been any meaningful response worth the name from either the police service or the minister of police.
Every citizen is entitled to police protection from the destruction of their property or the threat of violence. Why haven’t they been protected? Indeed, the tempo and temper of the attacks have merely increased exponentially.
Today, a family is preparing to bury a man who was, literally, an accident waiting to happen, a sitting duck. A man who didn’t deserve to die, who did nothing more than try to earn an honest living.
Lindelani Mashau is dead because the system failed him. His death must lie not just on the consciences of those who threw the petrol bomb at his car, but on those who did nothing.
They should be ashamed.