Art by Ché St Clair from the work, ‘Shrink World’ copyright reserved

In 2014 and 2015 I did restorative justice advocacy for two taxi associations in Cape Town.

The work comprised:
1. Looking into the sidelining of individuals from the industry;
2. The fairness of and uniformity of application of the minibus taxi recapitalisation processes;
3. The process of consultation with interested parties of the roll-out of the bus rapid transport services in various cities;
4. Seemingly unfair, arbitrary and/or racist practices surrounding the award of public driver permits and the diliniation of routes.

Our aim was to:
1. Ensure our clients were properly consulted and/or were able to participate in any administrative processes and/or consultation processes that affected them;
2. Protect the right to freedom of economic activity;
3. Ensure that the consideration of permits and ancillary processes were indeed independent, impartial and non-arbitrary;
4. Elevate our clients’ voices so that they had a seat at the table both literally and figuratively.

I was sure that concerns highlighted at an administrative agency level and/or civic level around unfair and arbitrary actions and sidelining were contributing to violent turf wars. My insistence on the inclusion of our clients at public consultation processes got the police called on myself and my colleague on one occasion and security on another. I was in a wheelchair at the time after orthopaedic surgery.

Early last year we learned that the then MEC for transport was facing fraud charges and had been suspended. There were attempts to regroup and to pursue justice. A familiar pattern of a select few being favoured with permits, ostensibly arbitrarily seemed to continue a divide and conquer strategy and cohesion was lost.

Two nights ago I received a call that 4 of our member clients (one of whom I knew well) had been shot and killed in disputes with rival associations over routes. I have been shocked and devastated to hear this.

But sometimes in the tragic, we find the gift of inconsolability and we renew our strength and courage to rise and press on.

My gut feeling is that even if the shooters are held accountable, and they should be, they are not the real problem.

We will regroup and renew and work to use our skills in restorative justice to advocate for the right to freedom of economic activity within a properly impartial, independent, non-racist and non-arbitrary administrative system.
Rest in Peace to Giant (pictured next to me) whom I came to know well. The other three (previously drivers and one has since become an owner) I may come to know only in death as I start delving into what happened. Rest in peace to them.

Rest In Peace and Power, Giant

As always, peace
Sheena Jonker
sheena@accesstojustice.co.za