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Shooting blanks.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Shoot! Shoot a chef, at work in his flat on his balcony! That's what I was meant to be doing today, as part of our grandiose plan to put together a book of hot and not so hot salsa recipes. But those plans began to unravel yesterday when a small minority of taxi drivers took to the streets armed with guns and real live bullets, not blanks, and bricks, stones, fire and whatever else they could wrap their greedy, bloody hands with.

So instead of him cooking up a storm and me photographing the process, I'm writing this and he's most probably washing dishes at the restaurant he is executive chef at, because who in their right mind would want to risk their lives for the meagre salary of a dishwasher?

 And these riots aren't happening  for the first time. And like the times before, they have no right to carry on the way they do! No right! There, I've said it, adding my voice to a million others who are now sick and tired of being held captive by these rogues. Every time they carry on like this, they bring the entire South African economy to her bruised knees. And we're sick of it! Sick of them killing our innocents; our babies, our children, the sick and the elderly, our mothers and fathers.

They want our business and they want the government to rubber-stamp and favour them for the foreign business soon coming to our shores, when the FIFA World Cup honours us as a nation. But the government, quite rightly so, seems to be intent on favouring a Rapid Bus Transport System, like in Brazil, to transport our guests to and fro between stadiums and the many beautiful sights in and around hosting cities. We want them to feel cared for in our country and safe on our roads, to create a sustainable tourism environment.

Just turn back the pages of recent South African history and you will soon see why these people have lost the government's and the peoples  vote of confidence. Innocent people shot dead, burnt alive in their cars, stoned, people threatened with their and their children's lives if they dared go to work and businesses crippled because of the resultant unstable labour force. And more, bus drivers and drivers of other taxi's, under the governance of other associations, shot because they are seen to be in competition with them, roads blocked and people unable to make it to work, cars and private property smashed and businesses looted.

An acquaintance of mine was reduced to tears, crying uncontrollably for days the last time these taxi gremlins went on a rampage. They broke into his laundry cleaning shop, stole whatever they could and then smashed every one of his expensive washing machines, dryers, irons and whatever else was there that they couldn't carry. And who do you think paid for that? He did and we are, in increased insurance costs and resultant service delivery costs and in fear!

And that's them at the worst of times! What about in the best of times? Ask anyone in any city or town in South Africa who the worst drivers are and they will all tell you, without a milliseconds hesitation that it's the taxi drivers. They slip in and out of lanes, push other drivers off the road, skip robots, drive as fast as they can without regard for speed limits or the safety of their passengers or other road users, stop when and where they please, mostly without indicating their intent to do so and in doing these things, causing many accidents and road deaths.

Are these the actions of people who have the interest of fellow citizens at heart? Then how can they be trusted with the lives of guests if they can't even tend to their brothers and sisters?Are these the actions of responsible businessmen and woman or of good citizens? Then how can they be trusted with very valuable and much needed foreign investment?

So we the people say no to them. And to the government we say: do not give in to them and do not give them the business they are killing for. It's time for the nations voice to ring out in the halls of government and for those people charged with the safe keeping of our children to stand up and add their voice; and to exert the power at their disposal to stamp out this killing, thievery and thuggery! Once and for all.

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