Violence erupts after City of Cape Town impounds illegal taxis

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Four Golden Arrow buses were set alight on Thursday morning in Nyanga.
Four Golden Arrow buses were set alight on Thursday morning in Nyanga.
PHOTO: Supplied/SAPS
  • A City of Cape Town clampdown on taxi operators known as the "amaphela" sparked violence in Nyanga.
  • Police are investigating cases of public violence and malicious damage to property.
  • MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith said the law must apply equally to everyone in the city.

The City of Cape Town impounded 21 illegal sedan taxis in Nyanga on Thursday, including 19 that are known as "amaphela, as part of a massive clampdown on illegal taxis.

According to the City, the vehicles, 19 "amaphela" and two minibus taxis, were impounded in terms of the National Land Transport Act, for allegedly operating without valid permits or in contravention of conditions set out in their permits.

The operation sparked violence when the angry taxi operators set fire to four Golden Arrow buses and one City vehicle.

Golden Arrow bus on fire emitting thick smoke
Four Golden Arrow buses were set alight on Thursday morning in Nyanga.

MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith said the violence that followed was not a coincidence.

"This appears to be the modus operandi every time that our enforcement services move into this area, in particular, to do their jobs.

"The last such incident was recorded in March this year, and just over a year ago, we witnessed similar violence in the Nyanga area. This level of lawlessness is unacceptable, and we will not be deterred," he said.

READ | Taxi operators torch four buses, state vehicle in retaliation to Cape Town law enforcement clampdown

Smith added the law must apply equally to everyone in the city.

MMC for Urban Mobility Rob Quintas said he was told that a Road Infrastructure Management Department was set alight en route to Heideveld to deliver basic services.

"I condemn this act in the strongest terms possible. Not only does it disrupt service delivery, but it also compromises the safety of our staff and deprives our residents of a basic right to service.

He said:

Every time a vehicle is burned, service delivery is delayed, and our residents have to go without services like repairs to roads and unblocking of stormwater drains, among other things. This is due to the unavailability of funds and vehicles.

Quintas added that City staff members who live in those communities fear for their lives and have to go for counselling before they can work again.

"This is an act of criminality and cannot be allowed to continue. The area is now declared a no-go zone due to violent criminality; thus, no service delivery.

"I call on residents from Nyanga to please support our efforts in providing services that will benefit them greatly," he added.

Police maintained a strong presence throughout Thursday to quell any violence.

Police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi, said the incidents were under investigation.

"The suspects are yet to be identified and arrested. Nyanga police are investigating cases of public violence and malicious damage to property," he said. 

Meanwhile, Golden Arrow said three of its busses were petrol-bombed and another was set alight. The protest action resulted in Golden Arrow pulling its service.

Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said: "Information available to us currently would seem to link this to a traffic operation earlier today in the area in which a number of taxis were impounded. This brazen violence is unacceptable and we call on the authorities to fulfil their mandate to ensure the safety of our drivers and passengers."

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