Premier Alan Winde to ask for army to help police in quelling taxi violence
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Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde has vowed to officially request that the deployment of the army be bolstered with further boots on the ground to assist the police in their response to ongoing taxi violence in the province.
This was after his conversation with the Western Cape Police Commissioner, Thembisile Patekile, on Tuesday.
Winde, Patekile, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell and Transport Regulation chief director Yasir Ahmed held a digital press conference to give an update on the Western Cape’s response to the ongoing taxi violence.
Winde said they could not allow “a group of thugs” to continue to threaten the lives of the residents and to commit what was a clear act of economic sabotage by preventing people from getting to work safely.
It has been more than a week since commuters around Cape Town have been stranded with no minibus taxis operating in some parts of the city, as negotiations over who should operate route B97 between Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) continued with no solution as yet.
Golden Arrow Bus Service (Gabs), which was supposed to be an alternative mode of transport, has since operated at limited capacity due to their drivers being targeted allegedly by taxi operators, claiming that they should also not operate.
SA National Taxi Council provincial spokesperson Gershon Geyer said they could not agree on a middle line.
Patekile said they had increased their presence in all hot-spot areas, including interventions through roadblocks, and unmarked vehicles to ensure that any person who was planning to disrupt transport modes was arrested.
He also said that 12 arrests had so far been made, and over 14 unlicensed guns confiscated from Cata and Codeta-associated taxis.
“This does not mean they were used in shootings, but they will be taken for ballistics testing,” said Patekile.
Fritz added that while they welcome the calm as no incidents have been reported overnight and today, he remains upsets that citizens are not able to do the most basic things, like travel to work without worrying about being caught in crossfire.
“The instigators don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Last night I spoke to a petrol attendant who was alone on duty. He was telling me all his colleagues are too scared to travel.
“Automatically, that business and the jobs it generated, are at risk. So this taxi violence issue has far-reaching consequences and it must come to an end.”
Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith said the City’s enforcement services continued to work closely with the police and other role-players to mitigate the threat of violence in the ongoing taxi conflict.
Smith said the situation continued to cause tremendous hardship and anxiety among law-abiding citizens, many of whom were directly affected as they had no means to get to and from work.
Winde said the Western Cape would also activate the Court Watching Brief Unit to ensure that any arrests linked to taxi violence were monitored.
Ahmed said taxi associations and leaders viewed taxi ranks as their “turf” over which they exercised absolute control, to a point that operators (legal and illegal), informal traders and even private companies were having to pay fees to taxi leaders or gangsters at ranks.