Cape Town - The Dal Josaphat Traffic Centre in Paarl is open again to the public following the arrest of taxi drivers and the impounding of 15 minibus taxis that blocked the area and participated in taxi violence earlier on Monday.
Chaos erupted at the Drakenstein Traffic Department this morning after provincial traffic officers impounded taxis which resulted in shooting incident at the department.
According to the Drakenstein Municipality the taxis were impounded because they were operating in contravention of their permit conditions.
Drakenstein Municipality’s traffic services and law enforcement divisions joined forces with SAPS, the public order policing unit and provincial traffic in the closed Paarl/Mbekweni Route B97 operation.
Daylin Mitchell, MEC of Transport and Public Works, said that during the impoundment, some taxi operators blocked the road in an attempt to stop the operation.
“A taxi then drove straight towards a traffic officer with the intention of knocking him over. The officer fired shots at the wheels of the taxi, forcing it to stop.
“The taxi driver was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
“Two other operators were also arrested. One was charged with assault of a traffic officer and another charged with interfering with execution of law enforcement officer while exercising his duty,” Mitchell said.
SAPS spokesperson FC Van Wyk said: “Two attempted murder cases and an assault case were opened against taxi drivers. Investigations continue. The arrested suspects are due to appear in Paarl Magistrate’s Court once charged.”
Social media posts had alleged that transport staff members had been trapped in-between the violence, but this was dispelled by executive director of community services for the municipality, Gerald Esau, who said: “No municipal staff members were trapped in the taxi violence.”
The municipality added that all taxi owners and taxi drivers have now left the area, and that “the law enforcement agencies remain on the scene to ensure the public’s safety”.
Mitchell added that while there has subsequently been relative calm between the two taxi associations contesting the route, processes and joint operations have been put in place by an inter-governmental group – led by the SAPS and his department – to ensure that the agreement signed by the parties is monitored and that the closure is strictly enforced.
“In the meantime,” he said, “Cata and Codeta-affiliated parties have been participating in a formal arbitration process to determine who has rights to operate on route B97 and other contentious routes in the area.
“This process is nearing completion, with the last hearing having been conducted on Friday, October 8 and the arbitrator now preparing her findings and recommendations for publishing in early November,” Mitchell said.
“We will not tolerate illegal operations on this closed route. Nor will we tolerate attacks on our officers, who are doing their jobs in enforcing this closure. The law will be upheld, and those who break it will be held accountable.”