7 dead in Cape taxi violence

Johannesburg - A community meeting will be held on Sunday following the killing of seven people related to taxi violence in Cape Town, said community safety MEC Dan Plato.

“It's seven too many, it's killing,” Plato said ahead of a meeting scheduled with affected communities about the escalating violence in the Retreat area.

Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan PlatoFile photo: Courtney Africa. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Police spokesman Lt-Col Andre Traut said that while the motive of the killings, which began last Saturday, was yet to be established: “We have reason to believe three factors played a role Ä drugs, gangs and the taxi industry.”

Traut said no arrests had yet been made.

“Circumstances are being investigated,” he said.

According to Plato, the Vrygrond and Retreat taxi associations were at loggerheads after an apparent infringement on routes in the Steenberg, Lavender Hill and Retreat areas.

On Sunday, the City of Cape Town issued a statement in which it said it had issued 1927 fines and impounded 103 taxis following joint operations between law enforcement officials, Cape Town traffic services and metro police this week.

The City's mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said that the operations had focused on the areas where taxi violence had recently flared up.

Of the fines issued, 262 were for unlicensed drivers and 161 for unlicensed vehicles.

A total of 17 drivers were nabbed after they were found to have warrants out for their arrest.

Smith said that at times the municipality was limited in what it could do; “especially since there are conflicting views on the root cause of the violence”.

In April this year, KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu had to intervene following several shooting incidents at the KwaDukuza taxi rank related to battles over the Darnall to Stanger taxi route.

In the same month, a Pretoria taxi owner was shot dead in his car in front of the Centurion Taxi Association's office in Pretoria.

In late February, three men were arrested in connection with the murder earlier that month of the chairman of the Dobsonville Roodepoort Leratong Johannesburg Taxi Association (Dorljota), Vusi Shabangu.