pedestrians fight back
Rubber bullets fired at protesting community
Zandspruit residents blockaded Beyers Naude street today, in protest of
accidents that occur in their area, after a man was knocked over by two
cars. Picture by PETROS RAPULE
JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg police fired rubber bullets at angry community
members during a protest sparked by a pedestrian accident on Wednesday.
Captain Siphiwe Ndlovu said a crowd of people from the Zandspruit informal
settlement in Honeydew attacked a taxi driver after he ran over a
30-year-old man along Beyers Naude on Wednesday morning.
When police tried to intervene, the mob turned on them, throwing stones,
Police then fired rubber bullets at the crowd injuring a 46-year-old woman
who was taken to hospital.
No arrests had been made, said Ndlovu.
The SABC reported the residents were demanding that the City of Johannesburg
provide measures to protect the local community from being hit by cars.
Pedestrians are hit on a daily basis and residents have vowed to continue
blocking the road until their demands are met, the broadcaster said.
But Ndlovu said the situation had been brought under control and the road
had been reopened to traffic by 1pm on Wednesday.
"The Honeydew police station commissioner was addressing the crowd about
their concerns," he said.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Beyers Naude had been closed from
Peter to Johan Roads during the protest following the accident.
"The situation is under control now... the driver of the vehicle which hit
the pedestrian is also safe," he said.
Emergency services spokesman Malcolm Midgley said the pedestrian had been
taken to the Johannesburg hospital, but died shortly afterwards. - Sapa.
- There is a particularly South African factor here, which it might be
worthwhile to explain to those who are not familiar with the country.
We have a long tradition of attaching different meanings to those
used by the rest of the world to words. For instance, in the days of
apartheid, 'location' meant 'black group area suburb' rather than
simply where something was. Similarly, 'taxi' in South Africa
means 'small privately-operated omnibus' rather than 'taximeter cab'.
These are car-sized minibuses operating on set routes, picking up and
dropping off passengers along the way, much like public buses.
The major difference is that they do not constitute a politically
accountable component of an integrated system of public transport.
The industry originated in the 'bad old days' when a minibus-taxi
venture was one of very few business fields open to black people. The
result was far more minibus taxis than the available passenger pool
warranted, consequent fierce competition over routes, and the
emergence of a sort of taxi mafia which regularly resorts to violence
to settle disputes over route allocations, etc. Because of this
ferocity of competition and culture, minibus taxi drivers are
generally considered the most dangerous drivers on South African
roads. Minibus taxis moreover represent a sizeable proportion of all
The current problem is that minibus taxis are generally considered to
be a mode of public transport. Urban designers think they are being
all urban by accommodating taxis, like a sort of third-world Metro in
archipelago form. Local public transport initiatives consequently
tend at least to include new and improved taxi ranks. There are as
yet very few who question this received wisdom. The idea of a system
of public transport in which the minibus taxi does not feature at all
is not considered.
The government is trying to implement a Taxi Recapitalization
Programme against severe opposition from the minibus taxi industry.
This will achieve little more than replacing simple, user-fixable
vehicles used inappropriately with overcomplicated, disposable
vehicles used inappropriately. It will not solve the real problem,
which is that minibus taxis have the same spatial and practical
requirements as any other motor vehicle. A city suited to the minibus
taxi is a car-shaped city.
The beginnings of a shift are there: a recent column by well-known
local journalist John Matshikiza did in fact question the publicness
of the minibus taxi as a mode of transport.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Andie Miller" <andiem@...>
> (see pic)
> Rubber bullets fired at protesting community