Taxi Strike: Cape Town Mayor Hill-Lewis insists taxis will only be released after paying impoundment fees

Taxis being towed and carried away

City of Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said impounded taxis will be released after paying fees. File Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 9, 2023

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City of Cape Town’s executive mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the city has impounded “several thousands” of minibus taxis and the vehicles will not be released unless the prescribed impoundment fees are paid to the city.

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Hill-Lewis said police officers in the City of Cape Town are “professional” and he would consider releasing any taxi where there is evidence that it was impounded unfairly.

“We will not release them. They will be released when the impoundment fee is paid. What I said is that if Santaco brings me examples of what they claim are examples of malicious or overzealous impoundments, then I will look at those examples and if we agree together that this is in fact an officer that has gone out out of bounds then I will absolutely work to release those,” he said.

“But I trust the professionalism of our officers and I think that they do a great job and I suspect we will find very, very few of those out of the many thousands of the impoundments that we have done.”

City of Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said impounded taxis will be released after paying fees. File Image: IOL

He said for a first impoundment, each taxi will be released if “somewhere around R6,000” is paid, and the fee is higher for vehicles that had been impounded before.

“Some of these vehicles have been impounded several times because they are not roadworthy, they are dangerous, they have smooth tyres - whatever the case is,” the mayor added.

On Tuesday, IOL reported that Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga is in Cape Town to take part in negotiations to solve the taxi crisis that has crippled the city and the province.

Minister Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga. File Picture: Siyasanga Mbambani/Department of Communication

Chikunga said the taxi industry strike could be resolved if all parties, including the City of Cape Town, come to the negotiating table.

The minister also accused the city of using the wrong by-laws to impound 6,000 minibus taxis.

But MMC for Safety and Security in Cape Town JP Smith denied the claim by the minister and accused her of inciting violence.

“Minister Chikunga, why are you trying to incite further violence by making false statements?

“Please can the public help us, whoever is closest to the minister, lean over her and explain to her very slowly. ‘No minibus taxi has ever been impounded within Cape Town, because of a by-law. Never. Taxis have only been impounded under her National Land Transport Act. It’s her Act. From 2009. If it is illegal, how come she only decided this today? After 14 years’,” said Smith.

Chikunga, who was briefing the media on Tuesday, said the municipality has been using the wrong laws to impound taxis.

She ordered it to release 6,000 taxis that had been impounded using these “wrong laws”.

IOL