Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has threatened to shut down taxi ranks across the Western Cape province if taxi-related violence is not resolved soon.
Cele came down hard on taxi bosses during a crisis meeting held on Sunday, 24 June. The meeting was set up to deal with the current taxi route war – this disagreement between taxis operating within Cape Town has led to the death of thirteen people.
The meeting included Western Cape MEC for Safety, Dan Plato, and Transport MEC Donald Grant.
Cele assured the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) that police would effectively deal with anybody implicated in a taxi-related shooting. The minister also added that the killings would have to stop, or else extraordinary measures would have to be taken.
As reported by News24, Codeta spokesperson Besethu Ndungane, said that Cele told them that failure to do so would result in ranks being shut down.
Codeta has also previously engaged in meetings with Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande, and called these meetings “consultative”. He added that the latest surge in shootings around ranks has been recognised by the minister.
The three main causes of taxi violence include regulatory failures, illegal operators and route invasions.
The movement of people by the Department of Human Settlements from Khayelitsha and Guguletha to Delft, as well as the fact that there was never any proper transport needs assessment in Delft, have been contributing factors in the route invasions.
Illegal operators have been using this regulatory anomaly to gain access to established routes, leading to other long standing operators feeling entitled to starting their own routes.
The City of Cape Town’s MyCiti initiative has allegedly added to the conflict by paying taxi operators to stay off their routes in exchange for allowing the new busses to drive those routes.
Some of the operators the City paid out promptly set up new companies with their payouts, and this has contributed to the current difficulties faced by the transport industry, which is responsible for moving up to 70% of commuters on a daily basis.
Ndungane said that the history of the taxi industry in South Africa is deeply rooted in the apartheid government’s moving of black people away from the country’s economic hubs.
“It is one of the ills of the past, and we have to correct it,” he said.