An Indian taxi driver was violently assaulted by a group of young adults in Manurewa, South Auckland, in the wee hours of Tuesday, April 18.
The driver Vineet Mahajan, 48, was parked at the taxi rank at the back of Manurewa South Mall when a group of three young adults had approached and jumped into the car asking to take them to an address nearby.
Indian Weekender spoke with the driver, who was badly bruised on the face and in too much pain and shock to go to work today.
Vineet Mahajan. the assaulted Taxi driver (IWK Picture)
“Generally I keep my car locked in the night, but unfortunately it was not locked yesterday night when that group of young boys managed to jump into the car.
“As per our company’s policy, we ask our passengers for fare upfront during the night time as we have been ripped off many times in the past.
“So I requested them to pay at least $15-20 in advance, and the difference could be adjusted after the completion of the journey,” Mr Mahajan told Indian Weekender.
“They declined to pay anything in advance, to which I politely requested them to leave my cab, but they were not keen to leave the car as well.
“When I asked them to please leave my car otherwise I would have to call the cops, they got infuriated and started hitting me with punches.
“One of them quickly came out of the car and started kicking me after opening the door.
“I was stuck in the seatbelt and little bit shocked from the assault all around me.
“However, I managed to immediately push the panic button installed in the cab which directly connects to our company’s office who had initiated the call for emergency help,” Mr Mahajan said.
"When drivers set off duress alarms the car becomes "live", and operators at the base can hear what is going on in the vehicle, pinpoint its location, and direct Police and other drivers to the scene.
“In the meantime, I had also kept my hand on the horn to attract some passerby and help, eventually,” said Mr Mahajan, who was clearly in pain while speaking with Indian Weekender.
Luckily, a passing car had slowed down and stopped nearby which had momentarily distracted the alleged offenders.
Mr Mahajan was quick to take advantage of this momentary distraction of the attackers and started his car and drove away.
The two attackers in the car managed to jump out of the car.
The Police was quick to arrive on the scene and provided first aid.
The police media team had confirmed to Indian Weekender about the incident of assault in Manurewa.
“At approximately 12 a.m. this morning a male taxi driver was parked at the taxi stand in Southmall carpark in Manurewa.
“We were immediately deployed however the offenders had quickly fled the scene.
“The victim was taken to Middlemore Hospital by ambulance with moderate injuries.
“We are currently in the process of gathering CCTV footage and making further enquiries,” said the police in a media statement.
However, Mr Mahajan is not expecting much from the police.
“They are asking for video footage before they can take any action,” gasped Mr Mahajan.
“I have given them the address where the attackers wanted to go and ideally police should be able to make some enquiries at the address.
“I can provide the video footage, but it is a hassle at the end and not worth it, as last time when I had met a similar incident of assault six months ago, the police was not able to take much action,” Mr Mahajan said.
Meanwhile, Taxi Federation had deplored the appalling attack on taxi drivers, second in the last fortnight and is calling for rethinking new rules.
Earlier in the month, there was another violent attack on a taxi driver in Wellington by a person who followed him to Wellington Airport in mid-afternoon. The attack had racial overtones, and the attacker had opened the driver’s door and leapt on top of him, punching him about the head.
Taxi drivers provide a service round-the-clock but with changing drinking patterns and drug use more anti-social behaviour is being encountered.
"The changes to the Land Transport Act are still before Parliament awaiting a second reading, and on behalf of taxi drivers throughout New Zealand we make a plea to Members of Parliament to ensure a safer work environment for people providing this essential service," says the Taxi Federation in a media statement.
Indian weekender also spoke with Jagan Reddy, Chairman of Taxi United, who is calling for police to take such action of young adults seriously as it creates a sense of fear among taxi drivers, especially those who work in the night.
"The police has to take these matters of assault seriously," Mr Reddy said.