The Gauteng government says that it is working on a programme to improve the safety of women in taxi ranks across the province.
One of the resolutions taken during a workshop held at the Gauteng Department of Community Safety was that commuter safety had to take priority.
The meeting comes after four women were attacked, stripped naked and assaulted at Noord Taxi Rank in Johannesburg. They were allegedly victimised for wearing mini skirts which the perpetrators believed were inappropriate.
The safety programme will include educating the public about the taxi industry, the principles of Ubuntu, freedom of choice and respect for the dignity of women and gender and tolerance.
“These messages will be carried through using stickers and CDs that will be availed to taxis while bringing the media on board to communicate the activities of this partnership,” said the Community Safety MEC Firoz Cachalia.
He said the workshop, which was also attended by Progressive Women’s Movement Convener Gwen Ramokgopa as well as local taxi associations, had noted that there had been widespread public anger about the incident which resulted in several marches to taxi ranks.
“The meeting strongly condemns the reaction of some people at the taxi ranks to these protest actions which suggested that they have recognised the harm caused by the victims.
“It is crucial for all sectors of society and communities to rally behind this campaign so that we can make a meaningful impact to the communities,” said MEC Cachalia.
MEC Cachalia said Friday’s workshop was significant as it brought together stakeholders from the taxi industry, gender and commuter organisations and government to find solutions to the matter.
He said the meeting agreed that the law should take its course and the perpetrators must hand themselves in or be identified with the help of the taxi industry.
“Justice has to be served to the victim and all institutions of democracy and gender equality must not fail the victims,” the MEC said.
Participants in the workshop unanimously condemned the action at the rank as a violation of the victim’s human rights and this matter has neither moral or cultural basis nor justification, the MEC said.
He said the associations publicly apologised for the events at the Noord Street Taxi Rank and spoke of their initiatives to improve customer focused approach in the industry.
“Women taxi operators spoke against the act and outlined initiatives that they will undertake to effect a culture change while enhancing gender parity,” said Mr Cachalia.
At the time of the incident in February, Public Transport, Roads and Works MEC Ignatius called for the leadership of the taxi industry to intervene and to work with taxi commuters in exposing the people involved in such acts of indecency.