Rumours circulating on social media of extreme taxi violence in Cape Town has put commuters on edge. The WhatsApp message doing the rounds states:
“Taxi Bosses just had a meeting they warn people not to take taxis tomorrow on the following routes from Khayalitsha-Nyanga-Delft-Wynberg and Claremont,” the text circulating on social media read. “They say they are going to take revenge for all their drivers that had been shot and killed so tomorrow they don’t care who are in those taxis they are going to shoot to kill so they warn passengers on those routes take a bus and stay away from taxis.”
The City of Cape Town Traffic Services spokesperson, Richard Coleman, refuted these claims, saying that all taxis will operate as usual on Wednesday.
The ongoing taxi violence in the City has prompted Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant to appeal to National Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, to help resolve the ‘war’. It is not yet confirmed how many deaths the current taxi violent wars have caused, but many reports state the number hovers around 13 deaths.
In a note published in the Government Gazette last Tuesday (22 May), Grant stated that his department’s view of the situation in Delft had deteriorated to such an extent that the safety of passengers could no longer be guaranteed.
Grant also threatened to shut down the Cape Town taxi ranks hit by the recent violence. These include Delft, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Wynberg taxi ranks. Delft taxi rank, in the mean time, has been declared a high-risk zone.
The Gazette notice also reads that Grant has decided to declare Delft a high-risk area in regards to taxi violence.
The following actions will be implemented to ensure the safety of commuters:
– To close all ranks and routes in the declared area for the operation of any type of minibus-taxi type service for the period stated in the notice.
– To suspend all operating licences and permits authorising minibus-taxi type services on the closed routes and ranks in the declared area for the relevant period.
– To instruct that no person may undertake any minibus-taxi type services to and from the declared area or in terms of an operating licence or permit that has been suspended; and to allow other operators, who need not be the holders of operating licences/permits for the affected routes/area currently, to come in and provide the services in the interim period until the situation returns to normal.
The note also explained that some 650 000 people live in Delft, bordering Khayelitsha, meaning that the demand for transport has increased – as well as competition over both passengers and routes. Despite efforts of mediation over the past five years, some associations are still monopolising certain routes. A significant amount of illegal operators have also added to the conflict.
The Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) both had representatives at an African National Congress (ANC) press briefing on Tuesday. The two rival associations agreed to work together to resolve the ongoing conflict.
The two associations have been in talks since Friday in an attempt to defuse the tension, but still requested that police step up their efforts to prevent further killings.