Cape Town - A battle is brewing between the Department of Transport and Public Works and the taxi industry over the ongoing criminal acts of extortion allegedly by taxi operators.
This after the department was inundated with complaints from victims of extortion including private companies and owners whose vehicles were being stopped by elements within the taxi industry (so-called patrollers), who impose fines or fees on people when they drive in certain communities.
Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell said those crimes were allegedly aligned to both the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta).
Mitchell held an urgent meeting with the taxi bosses at the weekend saying he wanted to hear from the taxi leadership what they were doing to put a stop to those crimes.
“The leaders agreed there are many challenges leading to the crime of extortion and there’s a commitment for further engagements involving government, the industry and other stakeholders to find lasting solutions to these crimes,” he said.
Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi said as far as he knows, they do have patrollers who were looking at illegal operators in communities including Khayelitsha.
“Everybody can protect their job, this is not a new thing, because at the end of the day we do not want to fight, and the same government is going to blame us that we are fighting over nothing. We will not allow illegal operators to take over the job of the taxi industry,” said Khanyi.
Cata secretary Mandla Hermanus condemned all acts of criminality in the taxi industry. However, he said there was a need to look at the root cause of those problems.
“Since the pandemic started, with lockdowns and curfews, the industry has observed a huge shift in the travelling patterns of its traditional client base. We have observed a move by many companies to provide transportation for their employees,” said Hermanus.
He said in the past they had always been limited to people working the night shift, or those who needed to be at work in the early hours of the morning when taxis and other modes of transport were not operational or it was not safe to use public transport.
“What we are seeing now is the proliferation of staff transport at all times and these companies make use of the services of a few individuals, to the exclusion of the taxi operators who are based in those areas,” he said.
Hermanus said that resulted in resentment between those providing staff transport and the local taxi operators who were now watching their former customers being taken away from them.
SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Gershon Geyer said they cannot condone the behaviour of certain individuals who impounded vehicles in the taxi industry.