More than 5 000 people attended a prayer meeting at Nyanga Taxi Rank, Cape Town yesterday (March 4) at an event which the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape, Robin Carlisle, described as “an historic occasion in the public transport sector”.
The prayer meeting was the latest development in a peace process in which leaders of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) have asked the Church to assist them in achieving a lasting peace between the organisations which have a long history of violent rivalry. On March 21 the taxi bosses will host an event at the Phillippi Stadium at which they will ask the public to forgive them for the suffering they had caused through their past rivalry.
‘I would like to salute the taxi industry for this landmark event, which came on top of a two-year murder-free period in the industry, which has not occurred since the 1980s,’ Carlisle said, reports Radio Tygerberg.
‘I would also like to acknowledge business leader Graeme Power, one of the number of key luminaries who were present, who played a significant role in brokering the peace agreement between CATA and CODETA.
‘In addition, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, whose commission into taxi violence seven years ago laid down many of the ground rules that my administration has been implementing since 2009, deserves accolades.’
In his speech he said that ‘peace in the industry has been one of the highest priorities for his ministry.
‘I would like to urge the industry to extend your peace efforts to saving the lives of the 240 passengers who die in taxi crashes each year – I urge you to make this your next big step,’ Carlisle continued.
He said his ministry was prepared to erect a memorial at the taxi rank marking the occasion of the massive prayer meeting.
Pastor Bongani Mgayi, one of the facilitators in the ongoing taxi peace process, said taxi leaders were very pleased with yesterday’s event at the Nyanga taxi rank, which is where CATA’s office is situated.
“The taxi rank was cleared, so there was no trading going on – this is a sacrifice as this is their income.
“During the service the taxi associations gave apples and water to everyone in the crowd. After the service they served a hot meal – meat, rice, etc. to the crowd and invited VIPs and guests to a separate location for lunch. They had slaughtered 2 cows, 20 sheep, and hired a coke truck to serve drinks. This is a token that they appreciate the community coming to stand with them on this day. They are also trying to change the bad image of the taxi industry.”
Mgayi said the day started with some singing and dancing from a few local gospel groups. The formal proceedings then started off with a church service – worship and a sermon.
Then the chairman of CATA, Ziphilele Capuka and the chairman of CODETA, Lennox Miselo, addressed the gathering. They were introduced by Sipho Maseti (CATA) and Lennox Mtengwana (CODETA), who gave a brief account of how the day came about, what it meant and their commitment to peace. Maseti, who was once known as a “warlord” in the taxi industry, encouraged all taxi drivers to embrace peace and forgiveness.
The CATA and CODETA chairmen spoke about the violent past and how they now stood for peace. They then exchanged a taxi certificates as a symbol of peace and forgiveness. They also exchanged T-shirts belonging to each other’s associations to show they embraced each other.
Thereafter church ministers, community leaders and key people – such as businessman Graham Power,advocate Murray Bridgman, and Christian ministry leader Amanda Buys, prayed with and anointed taxi bosses.
“We prayed that there would be no more violence, killings, and we prayed to break that demonic altar built on human blood. We then dedicated the taxi rank, industry and taxis to our Lord. Everyone all around the venue had their hand in the air during this time. This was a very spiritual moment. We were all crying as the Holy Spirit filled the place. We released three white doves as a token of peace and blew the shofars, which resonated through the venue. This moment was just beautiful! ” said Mgayi.
“After this we celebrated with music from Lusanda Spiritual Group – a very popular Gospel singer, and taxi owner from the Eastern Cape. Then the programme continued with speeches and messages of support from government, SANTACO, Eastern Cape taxi associations and others on the programme,” he said.