The MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu briefed stakeholders in Maphumulo on stern recommendations to be tabled to the Provincial Executive to bring about lasting peace and stability in the conflict-ridden area.
Key of these are to shut down the Maphumulo taxi rank as well as implement an intensive, extensive and comprehensive intelligence-led and integrated law enforcement strategy.
The stakeholders in the meeting included the Maphumulo local municipality mayor Councillor Happy Ngcobo, councillors, Amakhosi, SAPS management and various community structures.
Mchunu’s briefing follows a range of peace-making efforts, including meetings that involved the Premier, Ilembe District and its local KwaDukuza, Maphumulo, and Mandeni municipalities, as well as affected taxi associations.
All of these efforts, which have been highlighted by signing of cooperation agreements between taxi associations, and private security companies and PSIRA, security industry regulatory, have so far been unsuccessful in bringing lasting peace in Maphumulo.
The source of the conflict, which has claimed lives of scores of mainly innocent citizens who commute mostly between Maphumulo and KwaDukuza, is conflict over taxi routes. The conflict also essentially involved continued operations by illegal taxi operators from Maphumulo.
Following the election of a new Maphumulo taxi association executive in 2013, conflict surged over the Darnell route, between Maphumulo and KwaDukuza, explained Mchunu.
“All records subsequently showed that the Darnell route was legally operated by KwaDukuza taxi association, and that Maphumulo was not permitted to operate on this route.”
However, after the resolution of the Darnell conflict, a new conflict emerged in Maphumulo, which proved to be within Maphumulo because the area’s association was now divided.
The latter conflict triggered the meeting called by Premier Senzo Mchunu, involving all taxi associations on the 10th of October 2014, including KwaDukuza, Maphumulo, Mandeni and Nyoni associations, SANTACO and PSIRA.
Last month (May), three taxis were burnt in the Maphumulo taxi rank, and a 22-year old student and two taxi drivers, were shot and sustained injuries. The latter conflict was also attributed to an internal conflict within the association, after some members within it moved to pass a “vote of no confidence” on the executive.
“Maphumulo is today one of the most dangerous places in KwaZulu-Natal, with people who are heavily armed, and are a threat to society, peace and stability. Civil attempts to address the conflict in Maphumulo, which has taken different shapes, now require a different strategy, especially the implementation of an intensive, extensive and comprehensive intelligence-led and integrated law enforcement strategy,” said Mchunu.
“This will entail investigating existing cases and prosecuting those who have committed crimes. We are now going to employ the best strategy and tactics to bring an end to conflict and violence in Maphumulo, even if it means involving the SANDF,” he added.
He further explained that the Maphumulo Police Station and its satellites will be evaluated for its effectiveness, the area covered and success rate – and working with the local municipality, beef up security at the rank.