Item 1178 - Statement by Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress Delivered at the National Taxi Indaba

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ZA COM MR-S-1178


Statement by Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress Delivered at the National Taxi Indaba


  • 1993-08-24 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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  • English

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All forms of violence , be they politically orchestrated or not, including the killings in the taxi industry must come to a halt. The task of ending violence and creating peace is the responsibility of all of us.

None among us can afford to be bystanders or to stand aside wringing our hands helplessly in the quest for peace. The future of our country , the destiny of the entire nation, black and white, is completely and inextricably tied to PEACE AND DEMOCRACY.

The violence plaguing the taxi industry is no exception. I fervently hope that this conference will make an effective contribution to finding enduring solutions and exposing the perpetrators of the violence.

In this regard , we trust that the problems which have affected the participation of some grassroots taxi associations in this conference will be seriously attended to. These associations are central to the resolution of the problem we are discussing today.

They know better what the problems are and what the solutions should be.

The conditions in the transport industry which are the breeding ground of violence need be clearly delineated.

The transport industry is a critical component of the economy and the social well being of our society. White minority rule and Apartheid in particular bent the centrality of this proposition in the pursuit of their selfish sectional interests. That is why this country does not have a comprehensive transport policy.

It was never Apartheid's intention to provide for large black communities. Remember Froneman's terms for these communities - 'surplus appendages' he called them. Lack of public sector facilities for these communities is but one facet of this.

The sudden growth of the minibus taxi industry arose out of this. That is why even to this day, when the permanence of this industry is acknowledged , there are still major problems regarding proper ranks , pick up and drop off points for taxis.

In general, when this government has chosen to see the minibus taxi industry as a menace rather than fulfilling an essential service . When they succumbed to recognising it's reality, they introduced deregulation without regard to its implications for cut-throat rivalry generated by a saturated industry where certain routes for buses are protected. It is hardly surprising that Transportation Boards charged with issuing permits are completely discredited.

The taxi industry today serves about 1,6 million people daily. Buses and trains, together carry 600.000 people daily. Yet the government provides an annual subsidy of R 1,2 billion for trains and R 500 million for buses, while the taxi industry receives no subsidy at all.

Indeed, the escalating costs of vehicles , their maintenance and insurance coupled with problems of an overpopulated industry have only served to aggravate tensions in the industry.

So too has the existence of several taxi associations. It is in the interest of the industry and the operators that the question of unity of the associations be addressed.

At the same time we should be mindful that most of the drivers do not own the taxis. Their wages and conditions are largely linked to the number of trips they make.

In any appraisal of cause and effect and the factors generating the tensions in the industry which have plunged it into the vortex of taxi violence , we have to face squarely the question of the role of the police.

On a number of occasions accusations have been made against the police for taking sides in the conflict. In many instances taxi associations have accused the police for being unsympathetic and partial in favour of one group against the other.

Accusations have also been made against the police for refusing to open investigation or failing to follow reported cases. The incontrovertible fact is that the culprits and the perpetrators of the violence are not brought to book.

Then there is the involvement of some police as taxi operators which is also seen as a major problem in that such police are perceived as influencing the means of justice in favour of the associations they belong to.

Whenever one raises the question of law enforcement and the role of police, there is a howl of protest from the top-levels of government.

I would like to treat these protests seriously.

The general tenor of these protests is to demand proof and to concede only that there may be some individuals in the security forces who are exceptions to the rule. These protests become extremely shrill whenever they are reminded that the general attitude is that black lives are cheap.

The evidence continues to mount that violence in the townships is orchestrated and that there is a Third Force . Instead this cumulative evidence is dismissed through the repeated assertion that it is black-on-black violence.

Consider how the police and the security forces in general operate: In the recent weeks thousands of police and army personnel have been deployed in the East Rand township. To be effective one would have thought it would be considered important that at the very least black police should be visible when the security forces go into a black area.

Commonsense should dictate this. What would have happened in Ventersdorp if black police were deployed to deal with the ultra right wing who tried to disrupt the De Klerk meeting . Would that have been seen as normal to security force operations? Or, would it have been interpreted as an insensitive way to handle matters to the point of being provocative.

The record of deaths in detention speaks for itself. Neither these nor the murders of Neil Agett, Rick Turner , Webster , Biko and Goniwe and so many other are the result of black-on black violence.

The fact of the matter is that the security forces have been trained to be hostile to the black community and have a record of working with criminals.

It is true to say that the security forces regard the people in black communities as the enemy, not human beings to be protected, but people who must be controlled with severe force.

Mr Chairperson I have chosen to dwell at some length on the question of the role of the police and the security forces. This is because the issue if law enforcement and a legitimate and credible police force is crucial to ending violence, including taxi warfare and the transition to democracy.

Success on ending violence in the taxi industry would be an immense boost to our quest for peace. As our country moves inexorably to a democratic order, we should rightly be pre-occupied with a need to establish a non-violent society.

April 27, 1994 has been set as the date when all South Africans shall for the first time in the history of this beautiful country go to the polls as equals and as fellow citizens. On this date we shall elect an Interim Government of National Unity and a Constituent Assembly which will draft and adopt a democratic Constitution.

The election will mark the crucial moment when South Africans, black and white together , grasp history by the forelock and begin the process of shaping their destiny.

This moment is coming . It will happen with or without the spoilers . As we march ahead we shall continue to call on those who want to halt progress to democracy to join the multiparty negotiations and to desist from inciting confrontation and violence.

Peace and Democracy go hand-in -hand. Every step we take to curb and end violence brings democracy and peace nearer.

We want peace to reign not only in South Africa but in the entire region. Based on this commitment I have been deeply moved by the tragic event taking place in Angola. It is now possible to report that King Hassan of Morocco, President Houphet Boigny of the Ivory Coast and I have jointly written a letter inviting President Dos Santos of Angola and Mr. Jonas Savimbi of Unita to meet together with the three of us in Rabat. We have launched this initiative in the earnest desire to help bring to Angola.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 19/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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