On the 27th of February 2018, the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town hosted a seminar with Azwi Netshikulwe and Ncedo Mngqibisa from the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI), titled The role of taxi associations as agents of social control and community policing. The seminar brought together academics and practitioners who are interested in the taxi industry, and public transport in general. The researchers presented a case study of the role taxi associations play in community policing and social control in the informal settlements of Khayelitsha and Du Noon, in Cape Town.
There is a dearth of research on how taxi associations operate within the communities they serve, in particular the role they have undertaken with regards to social control and community policing. Currently there is a lack of understanding of how taxi associations enforce or regulate social control and the consequences of their particular actions. Initial observations, by the researchers, presented another side of taxi associations outside their core business of transport. The purpose of the research was to address the gap in understanding on the role tax associations play, with regards to community policing and social control in South Africa. This topic has not been researched and narrated in academic spheres in the country. The findings give insight into the current community dynamics and relationships between community members, taxi associations and the police.
Further research is required to determine whether or not taxi associations may significantly and positively contribute to the safety of the communities in which they exist, without resorting to violence and undermining the rule of law. While the researchers described common trends and characteristics of the taxi industry in South Africa, they did not attempt to homogenize taxi associations in the country, taking cognisance of the differences that exist between taxi associations and their activities within communities. Indeed, there is a need to deepen our understandings of mechanisms through which taxi associations and community members maintain social order and cohesion, in spaces where state law enforcement is perceived as ineffective.
Azwi Netshikulwe is a researcher at the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI), at the University of Cape Town.