The Star reports that a taxi driver assaulted a metro cop – and rather than actually helping her, various bystanders started filming.
The brawl took place in Houghton, while the officer and two of her colleagues were directing traffic on Friday Morning.
The officer stopped a white minibus taxi, and the driver began swearing at her, when she turned her back on him to continue doing her job directing traffic, he accelerated and smashed into her.
She had to cling for dear life to the taxi’s windshield, being dragged for several metres before her male colleagues managed to get the driver to stop. At first the driver refused to get out of the vehicle, and then when he did he took a swing at the male cops and proceeded to assault the female officer he had already tried to mow down with his taxi.
According to EWN the driver has been arrested and is expected to appear in court.
I’m not particularly bothered by the fact that bystanders didn’t get involved – this was clearly a dangerous man, and there were already multiple cops involved in the fight.
There is always the risk with this sort of situation where getting into the fray does more harm than good, so leaving it to the professionals and documenting the crime was probably the wisest course of action.
That said, I live pretty close to a main road. Every evening from around 4pm to 6pm, there is a bit of congestion here. The taxis respond to any sort of a queue building up in the traffic by going down the wrong side of the road – in order to cut ahead of the line.
There have been more than a few cases where people have just narrowly avoided head-on collisions because of this.
Every now and then taxi drivers will protest for the right to take passengers in unroadworthy vehicles. The Citizen reported on such a strike in June.
This isn’t even the first assault on a police officer this year. Earlier this year IOL showed a video of a handcuffed taxi driver assaulting a cop in Tshwane.
All of this to say, there has long been a culture of lawlessness and casual disregard for the value of life in our minibus taxi industry.
A big chunk of the problem was the decision, taken in the 80s, to liberalise and de-regulate the industry. This resulted in an overcrowded market, and wars between taxi associations that killed hundreds.
Nintendo, when it came out with the Wii, introduced the concept of a blue ocean market – a market where instead of directly competing with their competition they would do their own thing and go for that blue ocean where none of the other big fish were gathered.
Our taxi industry is an ocean dyed red with the blood of drivers and their passengers – it is so deeply competitive that it is incredibly difficult to make a living in it. The bad drivers make it incredibly hard for the good ones to make a living, and thus the industry becomes saturated with bad drivers.
When I follow American politics, there is always the inevitable libertarian who proclaims that government is the problem, that regulation is bad and that we should have totally free markets. Well that is the taxi industry in South Africa – and the result isn’t a good life for the drivers, or a safe one for the passengers.
A market requires regulation to work – and our taxi industry has for too long gotten away with a staggering culture of lawless, and outright dangerous behaviour. Sure they will strike, sure they can go to war, but at a point a nation has to be willing to put its foot down if it is to be considered a nation.
Because the status quo isn’t good for drivers, isn’t good for cops, isn’t good for passengers, isn’t good for anyone. There has to be a will to change this.
- Image courtesy of AsktheChiefJMPD.