Alvine Kapitako WINDHOEK – A crime watchdog has said that the increase in pirate taxis in Windhoek is a cause for concern because it means an increase in criminal activities, especially those targeted at tourists and other vulnerable members of society. In an interview with New Era recently, Sean Naude, founder of Namibian Marshall Rangers, a crime watchdog, said pirate taxi owners forge the big numbers on their ‘taxis’, as well as their licence disks. “They use temporary permits that look like licence disks and they paste it on cardboard. It’s only upon close inspection that you will realise that it is actually not a licence disk,” said Naude. He said that pirate taxi operators also duplicate or forge the big taxi numbers and there have been cases where three different taxis have one big number. Recently, Reinhold Iita, a former marathon runner, was a victim of a pirate taxi forgery. Iita told New Era that he was alerted by a relative that there was a taxi in Windhoek operating with the same vehicle details (big number) as his taxi. “We went looking for it and we found another vehicle with the same number. The number plate does not belong to this vehicle. It belongs to a totally different number,” Naude explained of Iita’s taxi. The duplication and forging of taxi details constitute a threat to lives because people might get into a taxi thinking it is legitimate only to be robbed. The driver who was found driving a taxi with Iita’s duplicated number was eventually caught. However, no case has been opened against him yet, said Iita, adding he is waiting on the police for further action. Naude said he did a survey of taxis at taxi ranks in Windhoek and found several pirates based on the display of false licence disks. People should scrutinise licence disks of taxis and they should not get into a taxi that looks suspicious, advised Naude. “I’ve gone to some taxi ranks just to have a look and you won’t believe how many taxis are illegal. I’ve seen three taxis with the same big number and a lot of them are the same … Toyota Corolla or Dankie Botswana,” said Naude. He added that Namibian Marshall Rangers does not have permission to arrest people, however, he alerts the police on criminal activities. “How are they (pirate taxi owners) getting the number plates (big numbers) made? Who is making these number plates because when you go to a company (sign shop) you have to produce a registration certificate of the vehicle to have a number plate made? You have to prove ownership of the vehicle,” said Naude. He stressed that duplicating and fabricating number plates is fraud. Often times these pirate taxi operators do not have driving licences and other legal documents to transport passengers in public transport. “What we’ve also seen is that people commit a crime and then remove the big numbers and they put on another vehicle’s big number,” said Naude. “When thieves have been apprehended we found that the vehicles that they are using are totally illegal. The person doesn’t have a driver’s licence. The vehicle is not licensed and the big number on it does not exist, it’s a fabricated number. This is how tourists fall victim to criminal activities,” added Naude. “We have tourists coming to Namibia. They get into what they think is a legitimate taxi and then they get robbed, and my advice to anybody who is by themselves is, if you’re alone and there are more than two people in a taxi, don’t get in,” said Naude. The head of the Public Relations Division in the Namibian Police Force, Deputy Commissioner, Edwin Kanguatjivi, confirmed that there are pirate taxis roaming the streets of Windhoek and that there have been operations targeted at apprehending them.
2018-08-06 09:44:03 1 months ago