DTA says allegations of ‘shakedown racket’ are unfounded

Taxis on Sandown Road double park and threaten oncoming traffic.

The Dunoon Taxi Association (DTA) has shot back at Table View residents and the provincial transport department who accused its drivers of intimidation.

This after Table View business owner Gabby de Wet accused Dunoon taxi drivers of running a shakedown racket.

She claimed the taxi drivers had accosted a driver from her business who had gone into Dunoon on Monday August 27 to pick up her staff.

“He was forced to follow the drivers to the taxi association offices, where he found that there were other drivers from other private businesses there being held ransom,” Ms De Wet said.

“My driver was asked the particulars of his trips, like how many people he transports, where he drives to and, based on that information, they said that he needed to pay a release fee of R300.”

Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said the incident had been reported to them but no case had been opened yet.

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant told CapeTalk recently that intimidation acts of this nature were “clear-cut criminal acts” and the Taxi Registrar should investigate.

“I was shocked to read the email from Gabby, and we also want to take the matter up with SAPS as soon as she has laid her case. The Taxi Registrar will also investigate and take action against the members of Dunoon Taxi Association,” he said.

But the DTA said Mr Grant should have spoken to it first before going on the radio to call its members criminals.

The association declined to comment to Tabletalk, but referred us to its response, addressed to the Table View Residents’ Association and posted on that organisation’s Facebook page.

In the letter, the association’s chairman, Howard Ngcongco, calls the accusations unfounded and unfair.

“This harms the reputation of the DTA, and we feel it is only fair to take people to task that have infringed upon our rights as an association,” he says.

“Dunoon Taxi Association does not interfere with the business operations of the businesses in Table View and would appreciate that members of the public not to interfere with the organisation and running of the Dunoon Taxi Rank.”

The TVRA’s Mandy da Matta agrees with the DTA that it should have had a chance to give its side before public accusations were made.

“We need to understand that the DTA is running a business, where it pays for the rights to have certain routes.

“In any legal situation, one always has the right of response.

“The TVRA is not judging the situation until all sides have had their say.

“The TVRA is currently engaging with both the DTA exco and the members of the public who wish to pick up and drop off their staff members in Dunoon to resolve any misunderstanding and to address the needs of this employers collecting staff and the exco of the DTA.

“So far, a system of notifying the DTA with a specific symbol for the staff collection vehicles as well as a dedicated pick-up point is under discussion.

“We are working closely with the DTA to find solutions to unruly driver behaviour and recognising the courtesy that the taxi drivers need to display toward the residents of Table View.

“Any solution that we require to address a volatile situation should always involve discussion and collaboration between the parties and both sides need to be heard as to what their respective challenges are,” she said.

The DTA’s issues don’t end there, though, because Table View residents have accused it of having little to no control over its “lawless” drivers, especially at the Sandown Road taxi rank.

Table View resident Wendy Robertson says there is a demarcated area for eight taxis opposite the West Coast Village Shopping Centre but up to three times that number queue there at any given time of the day.

“I’ve been complaining about this issue since October last year, and we are all tired of saying the same things. Some of these taxis completely ignore the rules of the road by doing illegal U-turns and double parking on Sandown Road and the R27. This is not only causing a danger to other road users but also to their own customers,” she said.

Ms Robertson said she had read the letter from the DTA chairman and she respected his wishes, but the association should show that kind of respect on Sandown Road.

“I’d like my request to be treated with the same respect his request was treated with,” she said.

Ms Da Matta said that if Table View residents wanted to resolve any issues involving taxis, they should be prepared to work with the ratepayers’ groups, the transport department and the DTA in joint meetings.

“As a collective, we can achieve way more than if we let the DTA or department or the TVRA do it by themselves individually,” she said.

The provincial Department of Transport and Public Works did not respond to questions by the time this edition went to print.