Taxi killings: Western Cape transport MEC mulls closing some routes as death toll rises

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  • The Western Cape government is considering closing the Paarl to Bellville taxi route. 
  • This after violence over the route flared up again on Tuesday, with three people being killed. 
  • The Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell gave taxi associations until Friday to respond to a gazette on his intention to close the route. 

Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell has gazetted his intention to close the taxi route between Paarl and Bellville as killings associated with the dispute of taxi routes escalate. 

"After consultation with the relevant planning authorities, I have decided to declare the Bellville and Paarl areas as high risk in respect of taxi violence," he stated in the notice which was published on 9 July. 

Mitchell intends to close route B97.

He may also close ranks associated with the route as far afield as Mfuleni and suspend operating licences and permits for minibus taxis on it.

In addition, outside transport services could be brought in to service the route until the situation is resolved. 

READ | Cape taxi wars: Services to resume following agreement with bosses

"This untenable situation is compromising peace and stability within the minibus taxi industry and could result in further incidents of violence, damage to property and the potential loss of human lives," Mitchell said in the gazette.

Motivating his decision, he added most of the incidents of violence have occurred at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange and taxi ranks in Mbekweni, greater Paarl.

Associations affiliated with the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) will be the most affected.

Mitchell said at a press briefing on Tuesday that 76 people have been killed in route disputes despite ongoing arbitration.

He added he felt the situation had degenerated to such an extent that commuter safety could not be guaranteed. 

On 5 July, several violent incidents occurred in Mbekweni between Cata and Codeta.

Most took place at the Mbekweni taxi rank situated in Mohajane Street, as well as the informal taxi rank located at the Shoprite Midway Centre.

According to reports, several operators belonging to Cata allegedly prevented members of the Paarl Alliance Taxi Association from transporting commuters. 

Between 5 and 7 July, seven people were killed, including commuters. 

On Tuesday, another three people were killed.

More than 40 people have also been injured since January due to the conflict. 

READ | High level talks to get under way in Western Cape following deadly spate of taxi shootings

Mitchell said associations had signed a peace agreement last week, yet there was still more violence.

In the meantime, many commuters had to make other arrangements to get to work, at great financial cost. 

Chane Michella Kleinsmith told News24 she could not get to work from Kraaifontein and had to spend R70 on alternate transport. 

This meant she was also late for work. 

Earlier, a Nyanga resident speaking on condition of anonymity said people had to walk as far as Borcherds Quarry to get transport after taxis stopped operating in the area following Tuesday's shootings. 

Mitchell said independent arbitration was always available to the associations. 

They have until 12 July to comment, and Mitchell will decide on what to do. 

Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile said at a press briefing on Tuesday he had asked for the urgent results of ballistics tests on weapons seized in recent arrests to establish whether they were linked to the shootings. 

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