Western Cape taxi violence claims more lives, wary residents eye looting in Gauteng and KZN

Three more people were killed in ongoing taxi violence on Tuesday morning in Harare, Khayelitsha and Delft in the Western Cape, bringing the number of fatalities in the turf war in the province to nearly 80 so far this year.

The recent killings took centre stage during a virtual press conference by Premier Alan Winde on the Western Cape’s state of readiness, should the violent looting that has rocked KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng since the weekend come to the province.

“Since the start of this calendar year, we are on 76 taxi-related murders, 44 attempted murders and an additional 49 taxi-related crimes,” Western Cape member of the executive council for transport and public works Daylin Mitchell told the briefing.

The provincial government is acting as arbitrator between the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) to resolve the conflict by finding common ground on routes both groups claim they control. 

An emergency meeting was held last Friday between CATA, Codeta, the provincial government and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) after seven taxi operators were killed in separate incidents in Cape Town earlier in the week. Both Cata and Codeta gave their assurances to stop the violence.

On Tuesday, Mitchell said the turf war was mainly centred on the Paarl-Mbekweni route, for which both Cata and Codeta claim ownership. He said his department was committed to expediting the arbitration process to stabilise the minibus industry.

Taxi violence has dragged on for more than a decade in the province. Mitchell, who was appointed to his post in May, has indicated a desire to resolve the matter by the end of July.

Following disruptions and closures last week, he said most taxi routes were now operating again, while the necessary resources to deal with problems at hotspot taxi ranks had been deployed. 

Meanwhile the widespread violent looting experienced in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, has not reached the Western Cape capital of Cape Town, but the city remains on high alert, with several shopping centres being closed as a precautionary measure.

The mayoral committee member for safety and security in the City of Cape Town, JP Smith, announced that while specific details in operations could not be disclosed, the council had identified possible hotspots that were regularly patrolled by law enforcement. 

There was some panic earlier on Tuesday when police responded to an incident of theft at a mall in Mitchell’s Plain, but there was no looting or violence and police arrested the suspects.

Western Cape head of community safety Albert Fritz said a collective approach with the police, provincial traffic, law enforcement, metro police, neighbourhood watches and private security companies would be followed “to deal with any criminal protest action that may arise”.

The newly appointed provincial police commissioner in the province, Lt Gen Thembisile Patekile gave his assurance that additional police had been deployed to hotspots, shopping centres and central business districts. 

He added that there had been “no incidents so far [as far as] looting is concerned”.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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