Taxi bosses in Cape Town say voice note warnings of taxi violence are not from them, but from people trying to cause chaos as taxi operators focus on a truce to end the recent shootings.
“Those are false and created by people who want to create chaos and panic for their own selfish ends,” the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) said in a joint statement.
“Our voice to the community is that they must come back to the ranks now. This problem is over,” Codeta spokesperson Besethu Ndungane told News24 on Wednesday.
“We have found a settlement between Cata and Codeta,” he said, as commuters worry after at least 10 people were killed an apparent battle over routes over the past few weeks.
Those killed include the chairperson of the Delft Taxi Association, Nazeem Daniels, , May 21.
“We are still addressing underlying reasons relating to Delft and Wynberg, and have reached a common goal regarding joint operations, to not put unnecessary risk to commuters and operators,” said Ndungane.
Cata spokesperson Andile Seyamo confirmed that the two operator organisations would work together to keep commuters safe.
“They are going to operate peacefully,” said Seyamo.
‘All agreed that the conflict has ended‘
In a joint statement posted on Cata‘s Facebook page on Wednesday, but dated Tuesday, the two organisations said: “Today we as [African National Congress], [SA Communist Party], [SA National Civics Organisation], CodetaODETA and CATA met and all agreed that the conflict has ended and the two associations are in engagements to find a long-lasting solution.
“We also agreed that [Western Cape] Department of Transport is failing the taxi industry dismally.
“The threats to close taxi ranks is not welcomed [and] is a form of cowardice by the department. This approach has racial undertones and seeks to undermine the taxi industry, since [it] is black owned.”
This followed a special notice in the Government Gazette on May 22, the day after Daniels was killed.
In the notice, MEC Donald Grant stated: “It is our view that the situation in Delft has deteriorated to such an extent that the safety of passengers can no longer be guaranteed.”
Grant‘s notice was in terms of Section 91 of the National Land Transport Act.
The notice reads in part: “After consultation with the relevant planning authority (in this case the City of Cape Town), I have decided to declare the Delft area as high-risk in respect of taxi violence. I am hereby giving notice of my intention to take one or more or all of the actions…”
Issue over longer routes to CBD
These included closing ranks and routes for minibus taxi services because of the violence, and other alleged attempts to ply some routes illegally.
The closing date for public comment was Friday, May 25.
“The way he operates, we will not accept that,” said Ndungane. “He seeks public opinion. The question is, does he know our opinion?”
Ndungane told News24: “We are not in a position to support the Government Gazette.”
“At the same time, we are not supporting that there must be any loss of life in any areas.”
He said that any breaches of operating permits, or attempts to violate route agreements, had to be policed by the City of Cape Town‘s law enforcement unit.
ANC spokesperson for the Cape Metro area Khaya Yozi said the issue was extremely complex, and appeared to turn on arguments over the longer routes to the CBD, which make more money.
He said the ANC, SACP and Sanco had tried to help, with ANC leader in the region, Xolani Sotashe, also assisting with a meeting held last Saturday.
Mediation process set up
An issue still stewing for operators is the issue of high penalties for impounded taxis, because without the use of the taxis, vehicle payment instalments cannot be raised and operators can go out of business.
Yozi said the attempts to cut the new taxi routes were not related to the recent bus strike, which left commuters seeking alternative transport.
Grant‘s spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said the MEC had met operators twice last week, contrary to claims that he had not spoken to them.
He said Grant had also set up hearings at the registrar for public transport over complaints, although it was not attended by him, and had arranged for mediation.
He had not decided yet whether to close the routes, as proposed in the Government Gazette.
“A decision has yet to be taken. Minister Grant will only make a decision once the Section 7 A (20), of the Western Cape Road Transportation Act Amendment Law, hearings have been concluded.
“A decision will also take into account the comments received following the publication of the Section 91 notice.”
He said mediation had been set up in Bellville.