Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Scores die in Western Cape’s deadly taxi tit-for-tat

Forty-three people were shot dead in the first six months of this year in the Western Cape’s intractable taxi violence, while close to 100 have been arrested and 40 are on court rolls in connection with the conflict. 

Paid hitmen have been shooting drivers, taxi rank marshals and taxi guards in a deadly cycle. Soon there will be another hit, in revenge for the last one — and so it has continued since late last year.

The Western Cape government and South African Police Service have set up a specialised taxi violence task team to prevent, investigate and prosecute taxi-related crimes.

The hope is that a full-blown taxi war reminiscent of the terrible scenes last witnessed in Cape Town during the 1990s can be avoided. 

The feud stems from a decades-old rivalry between the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata), and the Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta). 

According to those close to the dispute, the flashpoints include associations poaching drivers from each other, squabbles over the routes allocated by provincial transport authorities and consternation among drivers about how permits are doled out by the associations’ leaders.

Western Cape transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said that calling the associations around the table to thrash out their difference had not worked so far. 

“It’s worrying, but I’m hopeful that the leaders will come to their senses. We’ve agreed on regular meetings. But we must also pay attention to their concerns when it comes to the integrated public transport network,” Madikizela said.

Taxi organisations have condemned Cape Town’s MyCiti bus system, saying that the integrated public transport system takes commuters away from taxis and channels them to buses.

The city has included taxis in the MyCiti system by making some operators shareholders in its bus routes. This left fewer permits for other taxi operators. In April last year rival taxis clashed in Hout Bay over who should have the remaining permits to operate that route. Five drivers were killed. 

“We’ve had good engagements and people spoke out openly,” Madikizela said. “They were emotional. But we can’t end up with a situation where they end up killing each other. This will kill their business.

“But we don’t want to arrest the small boys, the hitmen. I want to find the people behind the hitmen who are paying for these killings.” 

In addition to 43 murder cases, police have also investigated 20 attempted murders. A total of 97 people have been arrested, with 40 cases on the court roll.

The shootings have been largely concentrated in busy transport nodes such as Belville and Delft, but areas plagued by taxi violence include Paarl, Bloekombos, Ceres, Masiphumelele and Nyanga. Affiliates of either Cata or Codeta are involved.

A researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies, Mikhail Manuel: “In Hout Bay one association was not included in the MyCiti bus project — one benefited and another did not.” 

“Added to this, you have an element of gangsterism that is connected to the taxi industry that does taxi bosses’ bidding. 

“This is all to the detriment of the safety of commuters, who won’t abandon taxis; [they] accept the risks because it’s cheaper [than other transport] and they get picked up and dropped off wherever they want.”

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the Western Cape, the umbrella body for taxi associations countrywide, denounced all violence in the industry. Santaco said it was waiting for Madikizela to confirm the date of a taxi indaba at which the issues, particularly violence, would be discussed.

“We hope the law enforcement agencies will make speedy arrests and that the perpetrators will be,” it said.

Efforts were made to contact Cata and Codeta, but they did not respond.

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and access the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, you can a full year’s access for just R510. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is contesting all 14 of the IFP-run Nkandla local municipality’s wards

Andries Tatane’s spirit will drive fight against ANC in Ficksburg

The nascent Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is confident it can remove the ‘failing ANC’ in the chronically mismanaged Free State municipality

Paddy Harper: On gleeful politicians and headless chickens

Paddy Harper doesn’t know who to vote for yet, since the Dagga Party isn’t contesting his ward, but right now what to order for lunch is a more pressing concern

Malema: ANC will use load-shedding to steal votes

While on the campaign trail in the Eastern Cape, EFF leader Julius Malema, without evidence, claimed the ANC was planning to use rolling blackouts to ‘steal votes’
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×