Outraged Du Noon residents have dug trenches across one of the township’s main roads after ten children were hit by speeding taxis in a week. Luckily none of the children were killed, but one child reportedly had both legs broken. Others were lucky to get away with lesser injuries. Over one hundred residents participated in digging up four metre-deep trench with picks and shovels in Mnandi Road on Tuesday this week after the spate of accidents which started the previous Monday.
While the men and women were digging up the road, others carried placards saying ‘we are sick and tired of speeding taxis’.
According to the residents, although none of the children, ranging from Grade Rs to Grade 5s, were killed, they say the incidents are the latest involving taxis speeding along what is a main residential street.
Late on Wednesday afternoon the street was empty of cars, while angry parents stood on the pavement monitoring the situation.
Parents interviewed at the scene said a five-year-old child had been knocked down on Tuesday morning. (subs: Tues 2 Dec) They said he was the tenth child to be knocked down since the previous Monday.
Mother of the five-year-old, Nokhayo Jama, 31, said her son could no longer straighten his right leg and had difficulty walking.
“Our children are being hit every second day,” said Jama.
She said she had been left traumatised after the taxi driver who hit her son simply dumped them at the entrance Milnerton fire station where they went to seek some first aid treatment.
She said the driver simply rushed off to continue ferrying passengers.
Community leader Nomsamkelo Dipe said taxi drivers could be seen drinking alcohol during off-peak hours and then drunkenly speeded along the main road.
Dipe said she had complained “many times” to the Du Noon Taxi Association (DTA) but they had not taken her seriously.
“When we approach them (taxi owners) they want to beat us, so we decided to dig the road up,” said Jama.
A retired Social worker and Prominent Community leader, who did not want to be named as she also owned taxis, said the City needed to listen to the community needs and install speed bumps, as the residents were taxpayers.
She said a lack of recreational facilities in the township also contributed to accidents as children had nowhere to play but on the pavements and streets, especially during summer holidays.
“We urge the municipality to take responsibility and install speed humps. Traffic officials must also check what is happening in our townships, they only concentrate on white suburbs,” she said.
DTA spokesperson Terrence Mhlangatshoba said he was aware that taxis drove too fast along residential streets.
However, Mhlangatshoba disputed the number of children who had been knocked down. He said three cases had been reported to them in the last week.
He said parents also had to shoulder some of the responsibility as many of them spent time drinking in shebeens instead of taking care of their children.
He said residents were jeopardising the DTA’s fight against the City of Cape Town proposed Bus Rapid Transport system and were helping the city to take away their taxi businesses.
* Reporting by Peter Luhanga. Published in the Daily Sun, 05 December 2008.