Taxis bring Cape Town city center to a standstill
Taxi drivers and owners paralyzed Cape Town city center on Thursday as a large convoy of minibus taxis set off from Khayelitsha along the N2 for the Western Cape Legislative Assembly.
Source: GroundUp | Hundreds of taxi drivers and owners are marching through downtown Cape Town to air their grievances. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
They also threatened to sue the Western Cape government if their taxis were continually confiscated.
Meanwhile, many commuters found themselves stranded on Thursday morning. For example, a GroundUp office worker left her home in Khayelitsha at 6:30 a.m. and did not reach our Rondebosch office until 10 a.m.
People affiliated with the Cape Organization for the Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) marched to Premier Alan Winde’s office.
The associations accuse the Western Cape government of refusing to process and issue permits on time, but being quick to seize vehicles operating without permits.
According to CATA General Secretary Mandla Hermanus, when a taxi is first impounded, the owner must pay a release fee of R7,500.
The second time the amount increases to R10,000, the third time to R15,000 and eventually to R25,000.
Hermanus estimated around 2,000 taxi drivers took part in the march and insisted it was peaceful and uneventful.
But earlier Thursday morning at least three Golden Arrow buses were set on fire, others stoned and four people were injured. Several other vehicles were also damaged during the protest.
Source: GroundUp | Golden Arrow buses were stoned and set on fire on Nyanga Klipfontein Road. The people inside had to jump out of the windows to escape. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik
Golden Arrow spokesman Browne Dyke-Beyek said the incidents appeared to be related to the taxi protest. She said buses were attacked in Nyanga, Philippi East and Kraaifontein.
Bongeka Pike, a resident of Nyanga, said she was a few meters from where one of the buses was stopped by a group of about five men. “I was going to take the same bus. These guys came between the shacks and started throwing rocks and ordering the driver to stop. People started screaming, rushing out of the bus while others were jumping out of the windows,” she said.
Pike said the bus was then pelted with gasoline as people watched. “Those men ran to the shacks,” she said.
Source: GroundUp | Taxi associations are threatening to sue the Western Cape government if their taxis are continually confiscated. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said incidents of violence were being investigated, but arrests had yet to be made.
CODETA secretary Nceba Enge has accused the Western Cape government of not taking the taxi industry seriously. “We don’t understand why in the Western Cape we are not treated like other provinces. In Eastern Cape, when a vehicle is impounded, the first fine is R2,000, but here it is three times that amount. And that’s not fair,” he said.
CODETA Women’s Forum President Nelly Tom said, “I will use my situation as an example. I applied for a permit. Then I was told to wait 180 days. At that time, I couldn’t park the taxi at home because I had a monthly installment of R17,000 to pay. The taxi was seized twice. I had to take out a loan to pay. As I speak, I am in debt.
When the taxi drivers arrived at Prime Minister Winde’s office, they were told that he was unavailable to accept their memo, but that an official from his office would be coming. This angered protesters.
The taxi drivers initially refused to hand over their note to the first official, but could not give valid reasons. André Joemat from the Prime Minister’s Office then came to accept the memo.
Hermanus said the associations will go to court unless their demands are met within seven days.
The city’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said one of the taxi drivers’ complaints was that they were harassed by law enforcement. But Smith said the city was overrun with complaints about the behavior of taxi drivers. “Our staff have a duty to uphold the law,” he said.
Police continued to monitor the motorcade as it left the city center on Thursday afternoon.
Source: GroundUp | The march was led by members of the Cape Town Organization for the Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) and the Cape Town Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA). Photo: Ashraf Hendricks