Hopes of bringing a long and bloody feud between rival Cape Town taxi associations to an end have risen with news of a high profile prayer day for forgiveness and peace in the taxi industry.
The Church and the Western Cape taxi industry are hosting a public day of prayer and worship at the 10 000-capacity Philippi Stadium on Human Rights Day — March 21 — from 9.30am.
At the event, which is officially called “Taxis and Cape Town Pray for Forgiveness and Peace “, leaders of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) will ask for forgiveness for their decades of rivalry in which the public have suffered violence and severe trauma and inconvenience as a result of crossfire, drive-by shootings, rioting and disruption of transport.
Christians from all sectors of Cape Town are invited to attend the historic prayer day, which according to a media release by the organisers, will be witnessed by senior Province and City of Cape Town officials; former mediators and friends of the taxi industry; senior representatives from all political parties and religious leaders.
Various unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to achieve a lasting truce between the rival taxi groups. But one of the coordinators of the prayer day, Pastor Bongani Mgayi of Glory Manifest Church (GMC), says: “I believe this peace initiative is genuine.”
He says the initiative began after Sipho Maseti and Lennox Mtengwana, senior leaders of the rival taxi associations, asked the Church to host a day of prayer for the taxi industry. They made the request at a historic day of reconciliation for the troubled Crossroads township on the outskirts of Cape Town on November 5 last year. At that meeting at The Business Place in Phillipi, church and community leaders prayed for peace, healing and prosperity for the large, informal settlement of Crossroads that has been afflicted by years of bitter political, taxi and gang violence. A notable participant in the Crossraods event was former apartheid Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok who repented of the severe suffering his government had brought to the people of Crossroads. During the meeting Vlok washed the feet of community and taxi leaders. Community leaders responded by washing and anointing Vlok’s feet.
Since November 5 the Power Group has hosted a number of private prayer meetings to plan a day of forgiveness and prayer for the taxi industry. Christian leaders and taxi leaders from SANTACO and the 15-15 committee (a structure set up by CATA and CODETA to self regulate the industry and to work towards unity and peace) have participated in this process.
On February 15, more than 40 Christian taxi leaders from CATA and CODETA attended an unprecedented meeting at the CODETA offices at Site C, Khayelitsha taxi rank. Historically the venue has been a no-go area for CATA members. At the meeting Mrs Amanda Buys of Kanaan Ministries, shared some Biblical teaching on altars – which was well received by the taxi leaders.
On Sunday (March 4) the rival taxi leaders will join in a 10am church service at the CATA offices at the Nyanga taxi rank. The service is to call on the taxi leaders, operators and their families to repent and turn to God and dedicate the industry to the Lord, says the media release by the March 21 prayer day organisers.
In another significant gesture of forgiveness and commitment to the taxi peace initiative, businessman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi has offered the Philippi Stadium for free to host the “Taxis and Cape Town Pray for Forgiveness and Peace”. Mpengesi himself suffered at the hands of the taxi industry a few years ago when taxi operators confiscated his taxi while he was transporting a family to a funeral in the Eastern Cape. He had to pay a fine of thousands of rands before his taxi was released, and his passengers and income from the trip were given to another taxi operator.
More information about the March 21 prayer day is available from Pastor Bongani Mgayi at 084 651 5335 or firstname.lastname@example.org