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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The making of the Qwaqwa 'mafia'? Patronage and protection in the migrant taxi business
Author:Bank, L.J.ISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
Subjects:labour migration
Ethnic and Race Relations
Economics and Trade
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189008707718
Abstract:Most studies of the black commuter taxi business in South Africa emphasize the speed and ingenuity with which small-scale black entrepreneurs have upstaged the moribund, State-sponsored transport sector in South African cities. This article pays attention to a more sinister side of the black taxi business which centres around taxi wars, illegal business transactions and alliances with urban street gangs. It focuses on a hitherto unexplored category of operators, long-distance migrant taximen in Qwaqwa, South Africa's smallest bantustan. Using the concept of patronage as an important tool of analysis, the author explores in some detail the diverse alliances forged by these operators in their attempts to hold their own in an increasingly competitive rural transport market. The paper begins with some general remarks about patron/client relations and their relevance to Qwaqwa during the 1980s. Thereafter, attention is directed to the development of the migrant taxi trade and, more specifically, to the relationships established between taximen, bureaucrats and street gangs within and beyond the bantustan. It is argued that the incorporation of diverse groups and individuals into this trade, many of whom operate outside the domain of official State control, has enabled the migrant taxi movement in Qwaqwa to evolve as an independent social and political force. The conclusion is that migrant taximen had by the late 1980s succeeded in establishing themselves as a 'mafia'-type organization. Bibliogr., ref.