NPA to probe alleged extortion by taxi operators
REPORTS of extortion and intimidation by taxi operators in the Western Cape have been escalated and a request for them to be prioritised by the National Prosecuting Authority put forward by the provincial Department of Transport.
Last week, Weekend Argus reported that taxi operators in the Kraaifontein area were extorting farmers who transport their employees to and from the area.
The Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association said the R500 annual fee charged by taxi operators was for an operating permit and stationery.
Speaking ahead of their national lekgotla which was held on Thursday, MEC for Transport and Public Works Bonginkosi Madikizela condemned the acts of extortion, intimidation and violence perpetrated in the name of the taxi industry.
“When individuals linked to the taxi industry are involved in criminal acts such as extortion, intimidation and murder, the department plays a supporting role to the SAPS and the NPA, whose mandate it is to ensure that the rule of law is applied. As such, we have escalated these reports to the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority with the request that these cases be prioritised,” he said.
Madikizela added that if any association or operator registered with the Provincial Taxi Registrar is found guilty of such a criminal act in a Court of Law, the Registrar and the Provincial Regulatory Entity may act to de-register such associations or operators and withdraw operating licenses of individual owners.
At the provincial taxi lekgotla, Madikizela called upon the industry members to “come out strongly against such criminal acts by their members”.
According to conversations on a farmer’s WhatsApp group seen by Weekend Argus earlier this week, people with Cape Organisation For The Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) reflective bibs were pulling private vehicles off the road on the Old Paarl Road (R101) on the eastern side of Bloekombos.
Local Codeta spokesperson, Besuthu Ndungane said the association had nothing to do with the operation and the paper should “get facts straight before asking nonsensical questions”.
Agri-Western Cape said they hadn’t received any complaints from their members.
Santaco national spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said while it is only taxi operators and those with working permits who are allowed to operate and transport people during certain hours of the day, charging money for it was illegal.
“In order for anyone to transport people they need an operating permit, the driver must have a PDP and the vehicle must be certified to carry passengers. It is right that the operators stop those operating outside of these rules but they can not charge people for it,” he said.
He added that they didn’t know how many private transport operators were on the books of the taxi operators to be allowed to operate and transport people to and from work.