Speeding, running red lights and barrelling down the shoulder of highways are just some of the offences that have earned a Philippi taxi operator the title of the Western Cape’s most wanted traffic offender.
The reckless road antics of Sibusiso Funisela’s numerous taxi drivers have amassed 238 outstanding warrants for his arrest.
But while Funisela owes authorities more than R150 000 in unpaid fines, the taxi operator was calm as he stood in the dock of a Cape Town municipal court, just hours after being tracked down and arrested on Wednesday.
“I tell my drivers to stop this but then I am here again.”
“It is frustrating to be here so often.”
He said that since 2010 he had paid weekly visits to the Gallows Hill traffic department to pay fines between R850 and R2 500. However, he couldn’t keep up with his drivers’ offences as the list continued to grow.
Funisela, 33, smiled slightly at the title of the province’s most wanted traffic offender. For him it was largely part of the business, as he claimed to have little control over his drivers’ behaviour.
“But I am making plans to change it,” he said.
The magistrate, who immediately recognised the taxi operator, spent five minutes poring over the 57 outstanding warrants for arrest for which Funisela was detained yesterday.
The operator was released, but will have to appear at five courts over the course of next month.
Mayoral committee for safety and security head JP Smith said Funisela’s taxi drivers were often reported to authorities.
“The public has been screaming blue murder. These are the drivers who are the subject of all the angry e-mails and texts in the newspaper.”
Smith said Funisela and his drivers would often failed to appear in court.
“And even when we set a new date and warn them to appear, they are in contempt again.”
Funisela told journalists he planned to pay the outstanding fines. While he refused to disclose how many taxis he owned or how many drivers worked for him, he claimed he was losing a lot of money because of the constant offences. - Cape Argus