At least four women have been raped in less than three weeks after boarding minibus taxis in and around Gugulethu, a gender rights activist said on Thursday.
The first woman took an Avanza taxi to work with two other people, said Zoleka Mali, a counsellor at the Mosaic Centre for gender-based violence cases.
“She said when those people got out, the driver drove to a quiet place and raped her.”
The alleged rapist was arrested, GroundUp reported.
“They put a tyre around her and just left her on the field,” she said. Police were still searching for the suspects.
Mali, who is helping the two women at the centre, was speaking at the launch of the #SafeRide campaign at the Gugulethu Square taxi rank. The campaign is a partnership between gender rights group Sonke Gender Justice and the SA National Taxi Association Council (Santaco).
The aim of the campaign is to address the high rate of sexual violence in the taxi industry. The initiative was piloted in Pretoria and the plan is to visit several taxi ranks across the country.
Sakhumzi Magengelele, a taxi owner attending the event, said he looked after female commuters passing through the Gugulethu taxi rank.
“If I am here, they are safe. Just mention my name, everyone knows me. I got into the taxi industry more than 10 years ago and I think it’s safe here,” he said.
But standing just a few metres from him, Funeka Yabo from NY1, said she didn’t feel safe at the rank.
“I go to work early, so it’s usually quiet. Most of the drivers are very rude. Unless you get the same driver and get to know them, then it’s fine. The way they treat us women is shameful,” she said.
Santaco president Philip Taaibosch said most people taking taxis countrywide each day were women. He said the decline in the number of people using taxis was due to the lack of trust in the industry.
“As taxi drivers and owners, we have a duty to ensure people feel safe in our care. Today, I carry the label of being a rapist because I’m a taxi owner. How does that make you feel that we are not trusted by the community?” he asked a small group of taxi drivers at the Gugulethu rank.
“We are going to ensure that we spread the message against gender-based violence,” he said.
Sonke’s Edward Motala said the campaign urged men to help end violence against women and children.
“We are bringing the campaign to where the men are. You’ll find them at the ranks and shebeens. That’s where we go to spread the message. The partnership with Santaco just takes it a step further. “A start is to remove all of the degrading art and things written on the taxis. Then, we can start to eradicate this issue,” he said.
Motala said the next event would be held at the Bellville taxi rank later this year.