Public held hostage by taxi violence

The Dunoon Taxi Association (DTA) says it’s not involved in the conflict but it can guarantee that it won’t be affected by the violence.

Commuters say they are too afraid to use any form of public transport in the Dunoon and Joe Slovo areas because of taxi violence in recent weeks.

The violence, which has been linked to a dispute over routes, has spread across Cape Town and those who usually rely on public transport are on edge, not knowing if their ride is the next target.

At the end of June, a man in his 40s, believed to be a taxi owner, was shot and critically wounded in a drive-by shooting at the Joe Slovo taxi rank (“Another suspicious Joe Slovo shooting,” Tabletalk, July 7).

A week later, on Wednesday July 7, a 35-year-old man was shot and killed while sitting in a taxi on Potsdam Road, Dunoon.

Last Friday, two Golden Arrow Bus drivers were shot and wounded in Samora Machel. Police say the bus was driving on Duinefontein Road, near Sweethome farm, when it drew fire.

Golden Arrow Bus Service (Gabs) spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke-Beyer told the Cape Argus that the driver of the bus and a passenger (who was also a bus driver) sustained gunshot wounds to the legs and were transported, in a stable condition, to the hospital. She said eyewitnesses claimed that the perpetrators were in a Toyota Avanza.

On Monday morning police arrested two men who allegedly shot at vehicles from the Langa taxi rank, and a third Golden Arrow bus driver was shot in the mouth at the Borcherds Quarry drive. Police say the driver was taken to hospital. The gunmen fled the scene.

Nomfundo Qalashe, a Dunoon resident, said she feared going to work because she depended on the taxis.

“I might have to call my boss later this week and tell her that I don’t have transport. It is such a scary time we live in. We have the pandemic, job losses and people going hungry, and now we have this violence. I never thought that just going to work would be risking my life. I know that we can all die at any time, but it doesn’t mean that we should expect to die while going or coming back from work,” she said.

The Dunoon Taxi Association (DTA) says it’s not involved in the conflict but it can’t guarantee that it won’t be affected by the violence.

“We cannot say to our community that they are 100% safe and that the violence won’t spill over to places, including ours. We are not directly involved in the current taxi dispute, but we can’t say we won’t be affected just like other forms of public transport like what happened to the Golden Arrow this morning (Monday),” the association said in a statement.

The DTA said the driver who was shot and killed earlier this month on Potsdam Road was not one of its members.

“We are a separate association and aren’t involved with any other associations. We are aware of what happened there, but the vehicle involved in that incident belongs to Codeta (Congress of Democratic Taxi Association),” the DTA said.

Andile Ndlovu, also from Dunoon, said people were being held hostage by taxi operators in the community.

“Our local association can’t act like they don’t have their own skeletons themselves. They have a history of violent intimidation against anyone they deem as a threat to their business. They may not be involved in any killings, but we know they are also violent. Generally, taxi drivers and their owners have a feeling they own the roads and they can do whatever they want. This is why we have this kind of violence because this behaviour has gone unchecked for too long,” he said.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), Codeta and Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) met at the weekend in a bid to defuse the conflict, but they failed to reach an agreement.

Premier Alan Winde said that he was “outraged” by the continuing taxi violence.

“This murderous behaviour must come to an end, with all those responsible being arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This violence is not only costing lives but also livelihoods, as people battle to get safely to work, as some operations come to a stand-still.

“While this is not happening along all routes, it is having a severe impact on many residents. It is simply unacceptable that a dispute over routes is now undermining the well-being and safety of our residents, and we will not allow this violence to continue. I urge all residents with any information regarding these shootings to please come forward to the authorities with information. I want to be very clear that all those responsible for this violence must be arrested and prosecuted so that a very clear message is sent that we will not tolerate this criminal activity in the Western Cape. This must end immediately,” he said.