Cape Town - Taxi drivers have blamed a violent encounter between traffic officers and taxi drivers during a joint operation on the closed Paarl/Mbekweni Route B97 where seven taxis were impounded and three taxi operators, on the authorities.
The operation by the Provincial Traffic Law Enforcement and the South African Police Service was aimed at illegal taxi operations.
Taxi operators attempted to block the road in an attempt to stop the impounding of vehicles. One taxi allegedly drove straight towards a traffic officer who 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 for assaulting a traffic officer, and another with interfering with the execution of a law enforcement officer while exercising his duty.
The violence comes while the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) are involved in formal arbitration, to determine who has the rights to operate on Route B97 and other contentious routes in the area.
Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell warned that illegal operations on the closed route and attacks on traffic officers, will not be tolerated. He said that the law will be upheld, and those who break it will be held accountable.
But Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi denied that their taxi drivers were operating on route B97.
"They began to illegally impound taxi vehicles, attack and arrest taxi drivers and even shot at one taxi despite them not being on the route in question or disrupting their operations. The traffic officers were the ones who provoked violence."
Cata secretary Mandla Hermanus said that the organisation did not have information on what led to the violence between taxi drivers and traffic officers in Paarl.
“We have been able to ascertain that the Cata operators are not involved or affected by the matter and will continue to respect the legal processes that are currently underway.”