Taxi operator arrested after traffic official almost run over during route checks

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Police presence at Cape Town Station Deck after an alleged  shooting incident involving rival taxi drivers in Cape Town.
Police presence at Cape Town Station Deck after an alleged shooting incident involving rival taxi drivers in Cape Town.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
  • A taxi operator was arrested for attempted murder after allegedly trying to drive into a traffic officer. 
  • It happened while authorities were checking for route infringements on the contested Mbekweni route in Paarl in the Western Cape.
  • Shots were fired in the confrontation which saw two other operators arrested.  

A taxi operator was arrested for attempted murder after a traffic officer had to shoot at a vehicle to stop it from running him over during a volatile route inspection. 

Western Cape Transport Department spokesperson Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka said the officials were checking for illegal operations on the contested Paarl/Mbekweni route.

Some taxi operators blocked the road. "A taxi then drove straight towards a traffic officer with the intention of knocking him over," she said. "The officer fired shots at the wheels of the taxi, forcing it to stop. The taxi driver was arrested and charged with attempted murder," she said.

READ | Cape Town taxi operator shot dead a day after ceasefire agreement

The Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) are each vying for rights to trade there, with Codeta fiercely guarding what it regards as its territory.

The dispute saw taxi services severely curtailed previously due to ongoing shootings. The most recent shooting was in Joe Slovo, Milnerton, where four people were killed and one injured in a fight which may have been over alleged demands for money by one association from another. 

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said provincial traffic officers impounded eight taxis on Monday during the early morning operation in Mbekweni.

However, some drivers also blocked Jan van Riebeeck Road and the entrance to the Drakenstein Traffic Department.

Four people were originally arrested, but one person was released. 

READ | How taxi association Santaco became the unlikely heroes of #UnrestSA

He said no one was injured, and those arrested will appear in court soon.

In the meantime, arbitration over the B97 was completed on 8 October. The arbitrator is preparing the findings and recommendations so that they can be published in early November.

A peace agreement was also concluded to bring some calm so that the groups could go into arbitration. However, the industry appears to be on edge with sporadic outbreaks of violence.

Meanwhile last week taxis were torched in Gqeberha after a collision between an Audi and a minibus taxi. Initial reports are that the Audi was set alight when it stopped, and then the taxis were torched, apparently in retaliation. 

Outside Johannesburg's usually busy Commissioner Street on Saturday, four taxis were burnt out. 

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport swiftly obtained an interdict against the Witwatersrand African Taxi Owners Association (WATA) and the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (NANDUWE). 

The interdict prohibits the chairpersons and members of both associations from, "... preventing, obstructing, or otherwise interfering with the rights of taxi operators and or any public transport", operating between Soweto and the Johannesburg CBD.

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