Shot taxi driver says he'll quit

8:20 pm on 21 November 2017

After nearly fifteen years in the job, Alem Tesema is giving up his career as a taxi driver.

Mr Tesema picked up a man and a woman in central Wellington and took them to Stone Street in Miramar, where they got out of the car without paying.

Mr Tessema said he was told to get out of the car, and when he refused, he was shot. Police believe the weapon used was a small low calibre pistol.

His shoulder was broken in two places following surgery, but was thankful he is still alive.

He said he worked hard for fifteen years to be a good taxi driver.

"I learnt very hard to know the suburb and street names in Wellington very well, I know where to go. I'm an experienced guy, I talk nicely with the customers. I don't mind $10, $15 people are running, I never chase them," he said.

He said he was too scared to get behind the wheel again, and did not know what else he will do yet.

Alem Tessema was shot by Dylan Nuku in Miramar on Sunday night.

Alem Tessema was shot by Dylan Nuku in Miramar on Sunday night. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Tesema added other drivers were also feeling apprehensive.

"They don't drive on night shift, because they say life is more important than money."

The news of this has not only stunned the taxi driving community, but locals as well.

One Stone Street resident said the news came as a shock and wasn't aware of what happened until much later.

"One of my sons told me late the next day, but there was a disturbance here after that incident," he said.

"Somebody was walking round banging on the doors and windows here. I never ring the cops then, because I didn't think it was serious enough to ring the cops."

The man said he had lived on the street for more than three years and that sort of incident was unheard of in Miramar.

However, assaults on taxi drivers are nothing new.

ACC figures show 20 claims were made last year by taxi drivers and others in the sector, such as those working for rental car companies.

But the figure was lower than the previous three years, which the Taxi Federation put down to the wide use of cameras.

That came as little comfort to Mr Tesema though, who said he wanted more done to keep drivers safe.

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