19 Nov 2017

Call for more protection for taxi drivers after shooting

10:04 pm on 19 November 2017

The shooting of a taxi driver in Wellington last night shows the need to urgently toughen the law to give drivers more protection, the Taxi Federation says.

23062016 Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King. Capital Taxi.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Capital Taxis driver was shot in the shoulder in Miramar at about 9pm, after a fare dispute.

Police said he had taken two passengers - a man and a woman - from Courtenay Place to Stone Street in Miramar.

The taxi driver said they got out without paying and the man then pulled out a small gun and shot him. The police are now looking for the pair and the firearm that was used.

The driver got himself to a nearby service station where he was able to get help before he was taken to Wellington Hospital, where he is in a stable condition recovering from broken bones from a bullet to his shoulder.

The victim works for Capital Taxis, and its owner, Tim Lauagiagi, said the company did not have records of the alleged offenders, because the ride was not booked.

However, he said the police would be able to review the cab's security camera footage.

Capital & Coast DHB chairman Andrew Blair announced the donation at an event outside Wellington Hospital.

The driver was taken to Wellington Hospital. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The executive director of the Taxi Federation, John Hart, is critical of the decision to remove mandatory panic alarms and cameras from small passenger vehicles.

"This could well have been an incident involving an Uber driver or someone operating off a similar App like that. It wasn't, it just happened to be in a taxi but the Uber cars are operating around the centre of Wellington at night so it could just as easily have happened to them and then there's not necessarily any record of who the culprit was."

Another taxi driver working in Wellington at the time said the atmosphere last night made him feel unsafe.

John Driesenaar said it was a busy night with the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final in Wellington and some people were drunk and disorderly.

"I actually spent half my time not on duty because it was a bit scary last night compared to previous nights. I mean I had two incidents last night where I had abusive young drunk men who were loud and swearing and even calling me by overly familiar obscene names."

John Driesenaar said he had to kick two men out of his cab, one of whom threatened to punch him.

The police investigation will include a forensic examination of the taxi and a review of CCTV footage.

"A dispute over payment of the fare escalated into a staggering level of violence," said Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch.

"This type of crime is unusual for Wellington and we want to reassure the community that police are focussed on finding those responsible and recovering the weapon," he said in a statement.

He is appealing for any sightings of a Capital Taxis white Toyota Camry sedan and a man and a woman on foot on Stone St in Miramar between 9 and 9.15 last night.

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