Taxi ban returns

A ban has once again been imposed on taxi operators in the Hout Bay due to the ongoing taxi violence..

Taxi drivers using the Hout Bay route have once again landed themselves in hot water when the taxi ban was re-implemented earlier this week.

The initial suspension was imposed on taxis in March this year and was meant to run up until September.
The ban was lifted last week but was again met with violence.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the province then decided to suspend implicated parties and the City of Cape Town heavily enforced routes and impounded illegally operating vehicles. 
“I made immediate contact with transport and safety and security who through their offices liaised with counterparts and relevant authorities in province and the national government,”Mr Quintas said.

“The resultant fact is that the province has re-implemented the ban on minibus taxi operators who are involved in this criminal and thuggish behaviour for the next few months.”

He added that the new ban will run for a minimum of three months.

It is believed that members from the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA ) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) are engaged in a dispute over routes – both wanting access to the routes whose permits were taken over by the MyCiTi bus service.

Last Thursday, October 3, Hout Bay’s SAPS circle in Main Road was shut down after a shootout between taxis in the area.

One taxi driver and a passenger were injured and rushed to the nearby hospital.

Hout Bay police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch, said the driver was shot in the stomach and a passenger in his right leg, with the rest of the passengers unharmed.

She said an attempted murder case has been opened at the station.

In March, Hout Bay was turned into a mini war zone when taxi violence erupted, leaving one man dead.

About 40 shots were fired during the peak morning traffic and taxi operators blocked the town’s main thoroughfare with their vehicles, just metres away from the Hout Bay police station (“Taxi mayhem in Hout Bay”, Sentinel, March 29).

In June last year, access to Imizamo Yethu was obstructed because of feuding between Codeta and Cata.

The conflict resulted in the deaths of five people (“Taxi violence continues in Hout Bay”, Sentinel, April 5).

The return of the violence has raised concern among commuters.

Malikah Ockers from Hout Bay travels to the CBD via taxi every day and said there was a tense cloud hanging over the area.

“You can feel something is about to explode. That is how it feels right now. These drivers are showing no mercy,” she said.

Ms Ockers called the Sentinel earlier this week after witnessing an argument between two drivers who were threatening each other with violence.

“There were people getting out of the taxi in fear of something happening. These drivers do not understand that we as passengers are not part of their fight and we also have families to see to and work for,” she said.

Another commuter, Freddie Hendricks, fears the violence will only escalate after the news of the ban being re-implemented surfaced.

“The taxis only know how to respond in one way. They use violence to make a point and we as the passengers are right in the middle,” he said.

“As that saying goes, it will only get worse before it gets any better.”

MyCiTi services will continue to have increased frequency on the Hout Bay – Camps Bay – CBD routes and the Hout Bay/Wynberg Taxi Association will continue to service that route, with a high visibility of Metro police and traffic law enforcement vehicles being supported by the SAPS Public Order Policing.

“Illegal vehicles will be impounded and the relevant taxi associations have been tasked with resolving their industry disputes before the lift of the current suspension,” Mr Quintas said.

Hout Bay Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Anthony Chemaly, said they noted with concern the ongoing taxi-related violence in Hout Bay and for the past few months, the CPF has been engaging with a number of role-players from the City, national transport structures as well as police.

“While we recognise the need for affordable transport for residents, we also cannot support illegal operation of routes and the lawlessness that has resulted in a number of shootings between rival taxi organisations,” Mr Chemaly said.

Representatives from Codeta and Cata could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.