Police monitoring threats of another taxi protest in Cape Town

Police are bracing for further protests by taxi owners in the City of Cape Town.

“We are aware of threats and have been, and will continue, to monitor the situation,” said Jandré Bakker, a communication officer at the provincial department of transport and public works.

The police service would ensure there was “sufficient police visibility” in the affected areas, according to spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg. 

Bakker said: “No direct threats were received that were shared with the department of transport and public works. Circulated messages were, nonetheless, taken seriously. No disruption has been reported.

“We have spoken to Cata [Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association], who have confirmed that they are also aware of the allegations of possible protest action but have refuted it.”

The threats were apparently specifically aimed at vehicle impoundment centres, including those in the Maitland and Ndabeni suburbs, about 10km from Cape Town’s city bowl.

Two weeks ago, on 24 March, protests organised by the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) and Cata turned violent and caused damages exceeding R4-million in the City of Cape Town. 

The transport department threatened to close taxi routes and ranks and suspend operating licences after the protest two weeks ago.

Cata and Codeta handed over a letter of grievance to Premier Alan Winde, demanding that the city change bylaws “as a matter of urgency”, particularly traffic bylaws that allow officers to impound a taxi that is operated in contravention of its approved licence or route. The associations say the bylaws are not aligned with national legislation.

The tension between the minibus taxi industry and the provincial government in the Western Cape is long-standing, but reached new heights during a violent turf war for operating licences in June last year. The disputes caused the provincial government to close Route B97 between Mbekweni/Paarl and Bellville. 

In October, four taxi operators were arrested on charges of attempted murder and assault after an altercation between drivers and authorities in Paarl. The arrests were the result of traffic operations to clamp down on illegal taxi operators on the disputed Route B97. Eight taxis were impounded. 

Major roads have since been the epicentre of continued roadblocks to help combat taxis operating without a valid operating licence.

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

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