Taxi drivers accused of intimidation

The Dunoon taxi rank is still going through upgrades worth R40 million. In March this year, phase one of the upgrade was unveiled.

Dunoon residents say they regularly run the risk of being late for work because taxi drivers won’t let them use other transport.

Khayalethu Vena says he called an Uber last week because it was the day after seven people died in a collision between a taxi and a truck near Melkbosstrand and he was feeling nervous about riding in one of the minibuses.

“I requested the Uber from my house in Usasaza Street and on our way out, taxi drivers who were standing near the taxi rank on Potsdam Road stopped us and ordered me to get out. I don’t know how they knew it was an Uber driver. I suspect they were following him or they have people in the community who monitor these things,” said Mr Vena.

Another Dunoon resident – who, fearing intimidation from the local taxi association, did not want to be named – said there had not been many taxis at the rank last Wednesday and the queues had been long.

“I was in line for a taxi, but I was afraid of being late for work, so I stepped out of the queue and requested an Uber. Two other people that know me saw me get out of the line and followed me and asked if they could also get a lift with me because they also didn’t want to be late for work. When the Uber arrived, we got in, but we were soon surrounded by taxi drivers telling us to get out of the car.”

He said he wanted to know from the taxi association what people should do if there were to few taxis and waiting for one was not an option if you could not afford to be late for work.

Some residents who spoke to Tabletalk say e-hailing drivers are frequently held hostage by the taxi drivers until they pay to be released.

In 2018, Table View businesswoman Gabby de Wet accused Dunoon’s taxi drivers of intimidating her business’s driver. The driver, along with other company drivers who picked up and dropped off staff, was taken hostage and asked to pay R300 to be released (“DTA says allegations of ‘shakedown racket’ are unfounded,” Tabletalk, September 12, 2018).

Dunoon Taxi Association’s secretary-general Frank Qotyiwe said allegations against its taxi drivers were often unfounded and never reported to the association or the police.

“I don’t believe that we have an issue of intimidation of any e-hailing services in the area. What is common is that individual taxi drivers have disagreements with individual drivers from these e-hailing services. Sometimes the e-hailing services park, pick up or drop off their clients right by our taxi rank. That will obviously cause an argument because both sides are in the transport industry,” he said.

Mr Qotyiwe also said that getting in and out of Dunoon for any vehicle was difficult because of all the road damage.

“Another reason for these clashes could be that these e-hailers often drive recklessly themselves,” he said. “When they are challenged, people think our drivers are flexing their muscles and trying to scare them. Our association has a unit that deals with complaints from the public and we have not received any regarding any threats or intimidation.”

Dunoon ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said he was unaware of any threats towards e-hailing services. He had met last year with the taxi association and other private businesses supplying transport, he said.

“In the meeting, it was established by the association that they don’t have a problem with people supplying residents with transport in general, but the issue was with the routes people take. I understand where the association is coming from because there are many disputes over routes between other taxi organisations, and we don’t want a situation where people can get hurt because of this,” he said.

Milnerton SAPS spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said they had had no reports recently about intimidation by taxi drivers in the area.

Uber did not respond to questions by the time of publication.