/ 19 July 2021

Cape Town taxi violence spills over to bus service as attacks continue

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The Western Cape taxi war now threatens commuters on the Golden Arrow bus service, with talks between various stakeholders not yielding a solution. (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)

Fatal shootings linked to the ongoing taxi violence in the Western Cape have continued unabated with no solution in sight. The violence, which has disrupted public transport has now also cast a shadow over the Golden Arrow bus service, one of whose drivers was shot.

The driver was shot and sustained injuries to his mouth on Monday morning along the N2 highway to Cape Town between the Borcherds Quarry and Airport Approach roads,  police provincial spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi confirmed.

In a separate incident, unknown gunmen fired shots towards vehicles at the Langa taxi rank. Two men, aged between 45 and 55 years, have been arrested on charges of attempted murder, Swartbooi said.

Golden Arrow spokesperson John Dammert told the Mail & Guardian that the bus driver’s shooting could be linked to the turf wars in the taxi sector.

“Intelligence reports appear to indicate that it could be related to the ongoing violence in the taxi industry,” he said.

Last Thursday, two buses were burned at the Golden Arrow Eastgate depot in Blackheath, raising concerns about a possible resurgence of bus attacks, but preliminary reports showed the fire could have resulted from a technical fault.

“All possible causes are being considered,” Dammert said on Monday.

In another incident on Sunday, a Golden Arrow bus came under gunfire in the early hours of the morning in Gugulethu. 

Violent attacks aimed at the bus service are not new, but the recent incidents  have come amid a surge in taxi violence that has claimed more than 75 lives since the start of the year, more than 20 of them this month alone.

Discussions with various stakeholders, including Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Western Cape transport MEC Daylin Mitchell and officials from the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) — have not yet yielded a resolution.

“We have started an important journey. We have not finished anything. We have to bring this matter of conflict between Cata and Codeta to a reasonable standstill,” Mbalula told the media before continuing discussions with relevant stakeholders on Monday. 

“We are here to reinforce the efforts of the province and ensure an intergovernmental, multidisciplinary and targeted approach to safety, which is the only way to restore law and order in the taxi industry.”

The ongoing conflict emanates from the turf war mainly centred on the Paarl-Mbekweni route, of which both Cata and Codeta claim ownership. 

“We were here last year and were encouraged by signs that the industry had turned over a new leaf. A peace pledge was signed; the mediation process was initiated and it was well underway … We are disappointed by the recent turn of events,” Mbalula said in a statement.

Discussions are expected to continue this week.