Lawless taxi drivers are causing chaos on Table View’s roads and the authorities appear unable or unwilling to stop them, say a group of outraged residents.
The residents have resorted to policing taxi violations themselves by filming and photographing them. Western Cape Action Forum (WCAF) chairman Des Palm has given the footage to transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron, along with a letter threatening to take further action if the City does not prosecute the offenders.
The letter to Mr Herron accuses his office of failing to protect residents’ constitutional rights to a safe environment.
The letter mentions “a number of serious traffic violations” recorded on dash or helmet cameras by residents.
“We all know that such recordings are admissible as evidence and we demand that the offenders be brought up on charges within seven days from date of this letter. We would also like to have proof that these offending taxis were taken off the road and sent to be scrapped,” says Mr Palm’s letter.
The residents are still furious about an incident on Saturday November 19 when a taxi driver allegedly knocked a teenager off his bicycle.
“The boy was 15 years old and just got the bike a week ago as it was his Christmas wish. When he was discharged (from hospital), the doctor said that he should be signing his death certificate not his discharge forms,” said Table View resident Schulla Pronk.
A witness to the “hit and run” had followed the taxi and noted its licence number, which was then shared among residents on social media.
When one of those residents spotted the taxi on Tuesday November 22 , they notified Ms Pronk. “I drove out to find him,” she said.
When she spotted the taxi, she pulled in front of it. Meanwhile, the police had been notified and contacted Ms Pronk who gave them her location.
Ms Pronk said that as soon as the driver had spotted the blue lights, he had tried to overtake her, but the police her caught up with him and pulled him over.
However, the man had later been released, said Ms Pronk, after he claimed that he had not been driving the taxi when the boy was knocked over.
“Whether it’s the same driver or not, it’s the same vehicle in our area. We’ve been warning against taxi’s for how long now?” said Ms Pronk.
In his letter, Mr Palm demanded that Mr Herron prosecute a list of offenders caught on camera by residents. He provided footage of each offence and said traffic light jumpers deserved harsh punishment.
“For these offenders, we demand a minimum of 18 months in jail,” writes Mr Palm. He refers to another letter about “taxi behaviour” that he sent to Mr Herron on September 28 2014, saying: “We are now two years and two months down the road and there has been zero improvement.”
He says safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith had promised “a three strike rule a long time ago, of course nothing came of this”. Residents now wanted a “zero tolerance” policy”.
However Mr Herron said it was “dishonest” of Mr Palm to suggest that he didn’t take residents concerns seriously or that he was failing to protect their constitutional rights.
“I have a folder thick with correspondence I have exchanged with some residents in the Table View area regarding minibus-taxis,” he said.
It was unfortunate, he said, that some residents were unwilling to accept that thousands of Capetonians relied on taxis to get to and from work, school and public amenities.
“Any suggestion that the City ever intended to remove all the taxis from the roads in Table View is absurd. Only taxis that agreed to exit the industry in exchange for compensation in order to make way for the MyCiTi service have been removed.”
Such was the case for taxis whose routes originated from Dunoon, Koeberg, Maitland and Joe Slovo to Table View and the surrounding suburbs, said Mr Herron.
Meanwhile, Mr Smith said the law prevented traffic police from using footage from the public to prosecute road users.
“The City’s enforcement services have a zero tolerance policy which applies to all road users. Unfortunately, taxis stopping and ranking illegally is a problem all over the city,” he said, adding that while traffic officers tried to cover as many areas as possible they could not be everywhere all the time.