Bonke Makalala
Bonke Makalala

Taxi boss: I am not involved in deadly war

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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Cape Town - In an exclusive interview with the Cape Times, the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) taxi boss accused of being at the centre of current violence gripping the City has in presenting his side of the story publicly for the first time, refuted the allegations.

Bonke Makalala’s pictures were circulated on social media allegedly by fake accounts with captions stating that “until taxi bosses eliminate” him, nothing will return to normal.

The violence has been continuing unabated in the city with more than 80 people killed since the start of the year with scores of others injured, including children.

Cata and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) have been in conflict over the B97 Paarl-Mbekweni route on which many, including commuters, have been shot dead and others wounded.

In the latest incident, the 42-year-old the chairperson of Saxonworld Taxi Association, a Cata affiliate, was shot and wounded at about 4.30am on Tuesday outside his Mnga Street home in Atlantis.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said the chairperson was about to start his vehicle when unknown men shot at him.

“He ran in the house. He sustained gunshot wounds to his chest and both legs. He was taken to a nearby hospital. The unknown suspects fled and are yet to be arrested. The motive can be taxi violence related,” he said.

The violence has led to the deployment of additional police officers to trains while members of the SANDF remained in the province.

Premier Alan Winde said he would officially request that the army be bolstered, with further boots on the ground to assist the police in their response to ongoing taxi violence.

On Tuesday, Makalala went on record to state he was not holding the taxi industry to ransom, as alleged.

Makalala, who started in the industry as a driver in 2008 and then bought his first taxi in 2013 after saving money and with help of a loan, now owns 16 taxis and a sprinter bus. He also owns a funeral parlour.

In the taxi industry, one must never be vocal or their life will be in danger, he said.

“I cannot keep quiet and not call out someone when they are wrong because they are used to intimidating people or they know people are scared of them. Rather hate me for being honest and at the end of the day not everyone is going to like you.

“In 2018, the Paarl route feud started and my name was brought up once again. The following year there were men who heard I visited my family in Khayelitsha and attempted to ambush and kill me. Fortunately I had already left,” he said

Makalala, who is also a Cata committee member in Fish Hoek and Nyanga, said he was forced to have a team of bodyguards last year after receiving information that there has been a R1.5 million reward for anyone that could kill him.

“I don’t have enough powers in Cata to order that the province be at standstill. I want this violence to end as much as anyone else because I have 17 drivers who have families to feed. The motive of my pictures to be shared and the fake news that I’m behind the shootings is because I’m vocal in the taxi industry and they want me dead.

“It is very personal and they want me to have enemies. I just wanted to share my side of the story and how I got where I am today. I am contemplating opening a defamation case.”

He said his taxis operated on the Fish Hoek route.

“During the time of being a driver there were no dangers lurking or me having to look over my shoulder all the time. The first time my name was brought up in a taxi violence was in 2017 when there was a feud between Cata and Codeta over the J99 Fish Hoek to Simons Town route.

“Reports from other people in the industry cautioned me that I was marked among the troublesome and must be killed. I bought a house in Kuils River and left Khayelitsha after the threats, which eventually died out,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Cape Metro Development Council, which represents more than 25 development forums, has given Codeta and Cata until Friday to denounce all acts of violence and commit themselves to a mutually beneficial, meaningful and genuine negotiated settlement of whatever dispute they may have, or face a 90-day boycott on taxis.

The council’s convenor, Ndithini Tyhido, said: “We call on the two associations to co-operate with our local development forums in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Langa and Phillippi in their meetings planned to take place on Wednesday (today).

“These meetings are a genuine community endeavour in advancing the call for a cessation of all hostilities by the two associations. We also call on all employers and employer representative organisations to talk to their members to stop their predatory harassment of workers to come work even if they are unable to due to the ongoing taxi violence,” said Tyhido.

Cape Times

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