Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
I was saddened to hear of the deaths of two people this morning, 15 October 2015, as a result of the violent conflict in the Vrygrond area. Those killed are believed to be associated with the minibus taxi industry. The killing of people and the violence incited in the area must be condemned in the strongest terms.
We cannot allow criminal activity to threaten the safety of people in the area and their ability to get to work and to meet their other commitments.
The violent protests erupted in the early hours of yesterday morning, with reports of protesters burning tyres, blockading roads, and stoning vehicles. Disgruntled operators have since levelled various allegations at both the City of Cape Town, and the provincial government, including claims that they are being specifically targeted by law enforcement officials.
Our Joint Operations Centre (JOC) consisting of the SAPS, Provincial Traffic, Metro Police and the City of Cape Town’s Traffic Services, has been conducting enforcement operations targeted only at illegal operators in the area. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.
In terms of section 50 of the NLTA, no person may operate a public transport service without holding the required operating licence or permit.
Any provision of public transport services in contravention of this section constitutes an offence for which a fine may be imposed. The vehicle may also be impounded for operating without an operating licence or contrary to the terms and conditions of the operating licence, which constitutes a route invasion. The number of operating licences issued is determined by each municipality’s integrated transport plan (ITP) and based on an assessed demand for the service in a particular area.
The Department strongly condemns route invasions and any form of illegal operations. There have been discussions within local and provincial government regarding the Vrygrond situation and a number of interceding measures have been agreed upon. One of these interventions is an increase in joint law enforcement operations in and around the Vrygrond area. These joint law enforcement operations will be sustained until the situation is normalised. We will not be deterred by violent threats from fulfilling our obligation to enforce the law, including the impoundment of illegally operating vehicles.
I call for calm in Vrygrond while our law enforcement officers attempt to restore conditions, and bring those responsible for the killings that occurred this morning to justice. I have also made it clear in the past that should illegal operations and violent conflict continue or escalate, I will strongly consider taking action in terms of Section 91 of the National Land Transport Act, which allows me to take extraordinary measures in declared areas, including measures such as:
I wish to appeal to legal operators and associations in the area not to take the law into their own hands, but to work with us in our efforts to restore law and order to the Vrygrond area.