For Phindile Msomi* using the taxi system from Melville to main campus is efficient and routine. Her mind is occupied with what lies ahead or what’s on her phone.
But last week the Wits Student was mugged inside the mode of transport she trusted and used on a daily basis.
Msomi, a second year BA Law student, was leaving campus last Wednesday evening and boarded a taxi on De Korte Street, a route used by taxis departing from the Bree rank and moving people to Auckland Park, Melville and Cresta.
“I got inside the taxi with another girl I didn’t know from Wits,” said Msomi.
Msomi said the ride seemed normal until they reached the University of Johannesburg, Bunting Road campus.
“The four men sitting at the back seat told us to take out our purses, cell phones and give them our bank card pins,” she said.
She said that this was done at gunpoint.
The girls were warned not to give incorrect pins because their trip included a stop at an ATM nearby.
They complied but Msomi said the other girl was beaten up because “they did not believe how she could not have a phone but have headphones in her possession”.
The muggers took the girls to the ATM and withdrew cash up to Msomi’s limit.
Msomi said the driver seemed to be with the robbers as he did not need any directions to where the machine was located.
The students were then returned to Braamfontein where they were dropped off near Damelin College on De Korte Street again.
“They told us to just walk off and not run or look back otherwise they would shoot us,” Msomi said.
Thembani Shelenge, a taxi queue marshal working on De Korte Street, said this was not the first incident to happen.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that such cases occurred when unknown taxis from outside the zone and an association other than Faraday Taxi Association worked in that area.
“Taxis allowed to rank here are ones with a green and white sticker written Faraday Taxi Association,” Shelenge said.
He explained that people do not pay attention to this because they just assume that if it is on that street it is ranking legally.
Shelenge said the association’s patrol car found a trend in the kind of taxi model used in cases reported.
“Most of the time the taxi is not a Quantum but a Hi Ace,” he said.
Msomi said she reported the case to the police at Park Station but was referred to Johannesburg Central. But she became dispirited and did not go there.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21 September 2012
(*names have been changed)