File photo: Dumisani Sibeko / African News Agency (ANA)

The much-anticipated South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) regional leadership elections began on Tuesday and will continue until the end of the month.

Regional elections will be followed by the provincial elections, which are scheduled to take place for two days from October 15.

Transport MEC Donald Grant said following conflict and the violent withdrawal of services by the minibus taxi industry, he approached the Western Cape High Court to ensure the elections “proceeded peacefully and without unlawful interference”.

He said he did so in the interest of tens thousands of commuters relying on the minibus taxis as their mode of transportation. The court case was set down to be heard on Monday morning.

Grant said the Minibus Taxi Industry Task Team (MITITT), in the replying papers, have indicated that the pre-elective conference was no longer a dispute, “which had previously been the main bone of contention fuelling this internal dispute”.

The Western Cape faced a withdrawal minibus taxis services during September last year and on August 6 this year.

At the centre of the disagreement remained a dispute over internal Santaco constitutional processes and the manner in which the regional and provincial elections should be held.

“We believe that the acts of violence and chaos that ensued during both periods of disruption infringed upon the rights of not only the commuters who rely on minibus taxis as a mode of public transport, but also on the public at large,” said Grant.

He said achieving peace in the minibus taxi industry was essential in regulating the industry. “Unjustified interruptions to the public transport system, which carry a negative economic and social impact, must be avoided at all costs,” he said.

Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) provincial chairperson Victor Wiwi said from Tuesday until the end of the conference on September 27 leadership of the eight regions will be elected.

Wiwi said the regional elections and the upcoming provincial elections will allow for peace, unity and stability to be achieved in the sector.

He said he was “happy for now how the elections were conducted” and was “look forward to the peaceful and fair election”.