With taxi violence having demanded Cape Town law enforcement agencies’ full attention over the past week as operators war with associations, calls are mounting for urgent intervention to resolve the conflict – including requests by the Democratic Alliance (DA) for government to authorise the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
With two shooting incidents having taken place on Monday after a week of relentless violence and disruption to the industry, commuters remain hamstrung wit public transport services extremely limited. The DA believe that the deployment of the SANDF will effectively resolve the violence currently underway.
DA condemn ‘senseless’ taxi wars
In a statement released on Wednesday, Chris Hunsinger, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Transport “strongly condemned the taxi violence that has wreaked havoc on the Western Cape’s public transport sector and local communities”.
“This violence has resulted in senseless deaths and has left many commuters stranded,” he said. “The DA calls on Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to urgently engage his colleagues, the Ministers of Defence and Police, to ensure that there are enough boots on the grounds to put an end to this violent thuggery.”
He said that as a result of violent conflict between warring taxi associations, the public transport system in Cape Town has been brought to a standstill and has placed innocent lives risk. He demanded urgent intervention SANDF, as well as the South African Police Service (SAPS) to support the efforts by local law enforcement to quell the violence.
Cape Town ‘calm’ on Wednesday
The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, reported that no further incidents have been reported on Wendesday, although he said that law enforcement agencies are on high alert.
Western Cape Minister for Community Safety, Albert Fritz, said that the break from violence is welcome.
“We welcome the calm – our residents deserve nothing less. It really upsets me that our citizens are not able to do the most basic things, like travel to work without worrying about being caught in crossfire. The instigators don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Last night I spoke to a petrol attendant who was alone on duty. He was telling me all his colleagues are too scared to travel. Automatically, that business and the jobs it generated, are at risk. So this taxi violence issue has far-reaching consequences and it must come to an end,” he said.
“I want to be emphatic: we are not going to accept the kind of violence experienced by our communities over the past few weeks. We are not going to sit back and allow violence and criminality to terrorise our citizens.”
Winde demands urgent intervention by SANDF
On Tuesday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced the following interventions relating to the taxi violence:
- Called for more SANDF troops be deployed to the Western Cape.
- The Provincial Department of Transport and Public Work (DTPW) is considering approaching the Western Cape High Court to empower the MEC to place South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) associations under administration.
- The DTPW has suspended its financial support agreement with SANTACO until such time the violence ends.
- The Provincial Government is preparing to approach the High Court seeking a declaratory order that taxi associations such as Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) are confined to specific geographic areas. The Province will also seek an interdict against associations to prevent them from establishing themselves outside demarcated geographical areas.
Hunslinger said that the violence underway will ultimately be felt most severely by desperate commuters, who find themselves stranded without a means of public transport to get themselves home.
“It is the commuters who are now bearing the brunt of this violence. Alternative public transport such as bus services have either been targeted by the violence or, in the case of trains, Metrorail infrastructure has been completely gutted,” he said.