THE Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) has condemned in the strongest terms the recent incident in which a taxi driver was arrested after kidnapping, raping and robbing a commuter who was on her way from Windhoek to the Ohangwena Region.
NABTA Secretary General Pendapala Nakathingo expressed shock and said that incidents of that nature only aggravate a situation where all taxi drivers are already perceived to be criminals.
According to the police the incident happened at Iindangungu village on the Ondangwa-Oshikango main road during the early morning hours of Saturday the 29th of June.
The victim – a 28-year-old social worker – was travelling from Windhoek and was dropped at a filling station at Ondangwa where she boarded a taxi to the Onhuno Weighbridge where her parents were waiting for her.
According to the police’s crime report, the taxi had other occupants who were dropped off before her and, while she was alone with the 32-year-old taxi driver, Mateus Kandjimbi, who asked to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused.
Not taking no for an answer Kandjimbi pulled off and stopped next to the road. The victim fled from the car but Kandjimbi chased her down, dragged her back to the taxi and drove back to Iindangungu village where he raped her inside the vehicle after threatening her with a knife.
Afterwards, the victim managed to escape again and while still naked she ran towards a nearby house to look for help, but the suspect chased her down again. He grabbed her purse with N$1 900 inside and turned back to his car and drove off.
Kandjimbi was arrested shortly afterwards and all the money and the victim’s clothing were recovered from his taxi.
Kandjimbi was charged with amongst others, rape and armed robbery and was remanded in police custody after he made his first appearance in the Ondangwa magistrate’s court on Monday. The matter was postponed until 18 September to allow the police to investigate the case further.
NABTA’s Nakathingo said the taxi industry is currently neither safe for the taxi drivers nor for commuters and his organization is now planning to introduce new measures to ensure the safety of both the commuters and the taxi drivers.
“The industry has been infiltrated by criminal elements and we, in cooperation with the police and relevant government ministries, are already working out a strategy to root them out and close whatever loopholes there are,” he said.
He said that many criminal incidents attributed to taxi drivers are actually committed by pirate taxis and NABTA is now planning to have all genuine taxis re-branded to distinguish them from pirate taxis and make them easily identifiable.
“Crime is not only committed against taxi commuters, but taxi drivers are also targeted by criminals. The situation cannot be allowed to continue like this. Something has to be done urgently,” said Nakathingo.