Three held for kidnapping, extortion of e-hailing drivers
Cape Town – The protection fee trend has extended to e-hailing drivers, as Bellville police arrested three suspects following the kidnapping and extortion of a driver recently.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said the suspects, aged 26, 28 and 40, are believed to be affiliated to a local taxi association and allegedly posed as clients, luring the e-hailing taxi operator to a specific location in Bellville.
Upon arrival they ordered the driver to drive to the taxi rank where a substantial amount of money was demanded for his release, she said.
“Bellville police were alerted and their investigations led to the arrest of the suspects and the impoundment of a Toyota Avanza. The same vehicle is believed to have been used in a similar incident involving another e-hailing taxi vehicle also in Bellville a week ago. The affected driver had opened a case with Bellville police after the ordeal.
“The arrested suspects will appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court today on charges relating to kidnapping and extortion.
“Western Cape police are reminding local communities to report incidents of extortion to the dedicated line 021 466 0011,” Potelwa said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele last week said that since January 2020, 105 extortion-related cases have been opened and 67 cases are still under investigation.
A total of 106 people linked to extortion cases had been arrested and charged, while seven individuals were out on bail, he said.
This as at least eight people are suspected to have been killed as a result of the crime in recent months.
Separately, Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said the shooting of Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) chairperson Victor Wiwi last week brings the total number of taxi-related murders in the province since January to 25, with 11 attempted murders and injuries over the same period.
Wiwi and his protector died after being shot while travelling in the direction of Nyanga last Wednesday evening. Two others survived the shooting.
Madikizela has called for a meeting with the leaders of the Cata and SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).
Both associations were locked in meetings yesterday and said they would respond at a later stage.
“The current spate of violence and killings jeopardises the agreements between my department and the taxi industry leadership structure, including a financial agreement in terms of which the department supports the leadership with meeting allowances, office space and administrative support,” said Madikizela.