Tuesday, 24 July 2007

friend hit by a taxi

We all know that enough is enough when it comes to taxi's on the South African roads... but it's only when something comes close to home that we get shocked awake. A fellow cyclist and friend was plowed through by a taxi two weeks ago, he survived, in much pain, and has been in hospital for two weeks. He was riding on the side of the road in Sunninghill on the road that borders Leeukop Prison and the Seventh Day Adv. church. This is his story: He heard the taxi behind him hooting, so he climbed off his road bike and started moving off the road when he was struck. The rest of the story was told to him by an eye witness because he only came to about 30 minutes later. The taxi stopped a few hundred metres down the road because he was dragging the bicycle. He climbed out, removed the bike and started walking back to my friend. He then saw that another car had stopped to help, turned, ran back to his taxi and sped off.

FG (my friend) came to when the people who stopped started helping him up to take him to hospital. He had a severe concussion because his helmet's strap had snapped and he had a full blow to the head when he hit the ground. He had also lost most of his front teeth. He's alive, and I thank God for that, but I am filled with an anger at this injustice. Because no one saw the driver, or got the license plate, the police discouraged him from opening a case.

It's as if taxi drivers (the guilty ones I'm referring to) see themselves as freedom fighters, using their taxi's as weapons, carrying weapons too in some cases. Taking on even cops if they get too authoritarian. And it's not getting any better. Doing nothing doesn't make it go away. I really don't know what the answer is, how do you get people to grow a conscience?

So, while our government is working very hard at the task of clamping down on smokers and people who discipline their children... it seems it's up to the minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to face up to the reality of crime in our nation, all while taxi drivers rampantly plow down the innocent. Something is wrong people, something is very wrong.


Simunza S. Muyangana said...

The majority of Taxi drivers are indeed a nuisance. With an incidence like this I wish I could say they were all bad but I have experienced the kindness and humaneness of a few, especially when I used to ride taxi.

I am sorry that your friend was involved in such a nasty accident. This is a very, very sad incident. It tells of a disregard for human life by this driver that is very un-ubuntu.

I would like to make note also that I strongly doubt that Taxi drivers think of themselves as freedom-fighters. If they do, I'd be interested to know what this particular would be. Two points that are clear is that brandishing a fire-arm does not make one a freedom fighter nor are fire-arms necessary in the fight for freedom (i.e. Ghandi in India, MLK in the US, Kaunda in Zambia, etc.) When the choice to arm is taken by a freedom-fighting movement (i.e. it has usually been specifically in retaliation to the armed and unjust opponents to the freedom cause). To go around threatening people with your gun is tantamount to terrorism .

As to whether the government takes the situation with Taxi's seriously ... there is a taxi recapitalization programme in discussion but the matter of Taxi drivers and associations is quite complex. Certainly not as simple a fix as taxing a couple of tobacco conglomerates or protecting the rest of the tax paying non-smoking public ...

Billy Einkamerer said...

Hi Simunza,

My reference to freedom fighters was in particular to freedom from obeying any authority when it comes to the road, and resisting these authorities, sometimes with violence.

I wasn't implying that all freedom-fighting is bad, I was making a reference to the more dangerous side of the bunch.

My sarcasm in smoking is in reference to my perception that progress is happening in some areas, while the more important areas seem to be neglected. Maybe I should give them a break, but in the light of this, I don't feel like that.

Pule said...

It seems like the government is afraid of the guys as they did a lot of talk about Taxi Recapitilization. The promised to have recapitilised about 80% of the fleet by 2010 but the treasury released less that half of R1 billion rand requested by the transport departments for taxi recap. It's time for these taxi guys to be managed properly as they cannot manage themselves. Governemnt must wake up and smell the coffee.