Western Cape transport department sounds alarm over extortion in taxi industry

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Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell closed the taxi route between Bellville and Paarl on Monday, 26 July.
Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell closed the taxi route between Bellville and Paarl on Monday, 26 July.
PHOTO: Bertram Malgas/News24
  • Santaco was called to a meeting regarding extortion in parts of the Western Cape's taxi industry.
  • Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell said it had escalated.
  • He urged people to report extortion to the police.

The Western Cape transport department on Thursday called the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) to an urgent meeting regarding extortion in some sectors of the taxi industry.

The province's Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell said:

My office has been inundated with complaints from victims of extortion, such as private companies and owners, whose vehicles are being stopped by elements within the taxi industry [so-called patrollers], who impose 'fines' or 'release fees' on people when they drive in certain communities.

"These crimes are allegedly aligned to both the [Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association] and the [Congress of Democratic Taxi Association]," he said.

Mitchell said that, because it was not within his mandate to investigate crime, the department would support the police in bringing the perpetrators to book, so that commuters were transported safely.

"These criminal acts must be condemned and the leaders of the minibus taxi industry have a responsibility to ensure that their members operate within the law and in accordance with their constitution and signed code of conduct."

He warned that, in terms of the National Land Transport Act and supporting provincial laws, the provincial registrar may de-register associations or members, and the provincial regulatory entity may withdraw operating licences from people convicted of extortion or other serious crimes.

READ | Cape Town taxi wars: Joe Slovo mass shooting accused ordered to go for treatment as part of bail conditions

Santaco's secretary, Gershon Geyer, was quoted as saying: "As Santaco, we cannot condone the behaviour of certain individuals who are impounding vehicles in the taxi industry."

At a recent briefing, the Western Cape legislature's transport committee heard that extortionists even issued receipts for "fees" paid by private transport operators.

Extortion can be reported on 086 001 0111 – and Mitchell said police stations had standard operating procedures for reporting this crime.

This is the latest blow to the taxi industry, which is still dealing with the closure of the B97 route between Paarl and Bellville after a route dispute played out in the form of shootings across Cape Town.

The most recent shooting at Joe Slovo taxi rank in Cape Town left four people dead, and one injured.

The Cape Town Magistrate's Court heard, during the bail application of murder-accused Mbongeni Songo, that the shooting was preceded by taxis being stopped and money taken from taxi drivers.

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