The Greater Alberton Taxi Association (GATA) celebrated 60 years of existence at a glittering event held at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday.
With delicious food and expensive wines, the association had another more important milestone to celebrate too: in the past three years, there have been no taxi-related assassinations in their association.
Chairperson of the provincial task team for the top six Brenda Tshabalala said “in the past three years, there have been no reports of taxi bosses, owners, or executives being targeted and killed.”
Brenda said it was difficult to be a woman leader in this violent industry.
“I must tell you that it is not an easy ride to be a woman taxi owner and being a leader. Some didn’t like to be led by a woman. At one point, I was shot four times and have marks where bullets went through my body,” she said.
Brenda said the celebrations were also to remember those who first came up with the idea of forming the association under apartheid. “Most of them have died due to taxi violence where they were targeted and killed,” she said.
She said she joined the male-dominated industry in 1984 and since then it has been her mission to see peace restored in the industry.
Regional Chairperson Peter Mothabe said the celebrations were a symbol of peace and greater things to come.
Peter sent a strong message to taxi associations who are still fighting and killing each other. “It’s time to start counting money in boardrooms and not bodies in mortuaries.
“Stop killing each other and get to know the business and make money,” he said.
Like several other leaders in the association, Peter said he too survived an assassination at one point in his life as a leader.
He said the business is no longer in the hands of gangsters but has shifted to more business-minded people.” We have teachers, police officers, doctors, and other professionals venturing and investing in the business. We are like any business.”
Mandla Andries Nzimande, GATA’s chairperson, said: “This milestone celebration brings me joy.”