Cape Town - Taxi owners are expected to meet with the Ministers of Transport Blade Nzimande and Police Bheki Cele tomorrow to discuss deadly taxi feuds in the Western Cape.
This comes after the deaths of five people in the Hout Bay area over five days, following clashes between taxi operators over the Cape Town-Hout Bay route.
The killings are said to be part of a year-long conflict between operators in the area affiliated to the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) wanting access to the route whose permits were taken over by MyCiTi.
Earlier this week MEC for Transport Donald Grant announced the transport registrar had suspended operations on the route until affected associations come to an agreement.
Spokesperson for the Transport MEC, Siphesihle Dube, said: “The suspension is for a period of six months, until September 21, 2019. During this time the situation in Hout Bay will be closely monitored to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct and Standard Constitution.”
On Tuesday and Thursday, meetings between Cata, Codeta, their affiliates and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) were convened to work out an amicable solution.
“In our view the violence is caused by regulatory failures the regulators want to distance themselves from. The main issue here is that on all routes where there is MyCiTi, there is a vacuum and that is where our members become vulnerable,” said Codeta spokesperson Besuthu Ndugane.
ANC spokesperson for Public Transport Cameron Dugmore said the problems began when illegal operators muscled in and started their own rank.
“An informal rank had been set up in Hout Bay near the soccer fields and these illegal operators have been operating without consistent sanction by those responsible for law enforcement,” he said.
“We are aware that in the process of establishing the bus rapid transport (BRT) system in Cape Town, agreements were reached that taxi permits for certain routes would be surrendered in return for cash payments and inclusion as shareholders in various operating companies set up to operate BRT in Cape Town, commonly known as MyCiTi. In the case of the Hout Bay to Cape Town route, all permits were surrendered, resulting in this route being run exclusively by a vehicle operating company under MyCiTi.
“Taxi operators in Hout Bay, who were not part of this process, have expressed concerns that operators from other areas have begun to operate this route illegally.”
Dugmore said with no rail service in the area, commuters wanted the choice to either use MyCiTi or minibus taxis and have called for an open and transparent process for the allocation of a number of permits for this route.
Frightened commuters have called on the government to impose gun-free zones in taxi ranks to curb shoot-outs.
“This talking back and forth does not solve the problem, which is why taxi drivers and owners feel the need to carry guns to work. Those who are real bullies even carry them where people can see them,” said a commuter who asked to remain anonymous.
“If the government and these taxi associations are serious about ensuring their commuters’ safety, they should disarm their members. We are tired of living in fear.”
Western Cape chairperson of Santaco, Achmat Dyson, said leaders from Cata and Codeta had agreed to a ceasefire in order to negotiate a settlement. “We need to instil a culture of resolving conflicts around the table and not through violence,” he said.
Asked whether there would be a drive to encourage members to discuss gun safety, Dyson said it was not a matter he could comment on as it was not in his control.