Taxi violence threatens empowerment programmes
Media Release by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
I visited the family of the late President of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) to take personal condolences yesterday.
Mr Victor Wiwi and his protector died after being shot while travelling in the direction of Nyanga on Wednesday evening. Two other colleagues survived the shooting.
Police are investigating cases of double murder and attempted murder.
The incident of Wednesday 7 April 2021 brings the total number of taxi related murders in the Western Cape to 25 since January, with 11 attempted murders and injuries over the same period.
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.
I call on CATA leaders and members to remain calm and allow the police to do their work. The SAPS assured me they have assigned a dedicated team of detectives to investigate taxi related crimes. This team has made good progress over the last few years.
My Department is regularly meeting senior officials from enforcement authorities including the SAPS, Metro Police and Traffic, as well as regulatory authorities, the Provincial Taxi Registrar and the Provincial Regulatory Entity to plan a coordinated, inter-governmental response to the violence and other crimes associated with the minibus taxi industry.
Following Wednesday’s incident, I have called an urgent meeting on Monday with the leaders of the SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO) Western Cape Branch to express my grave concerns with regards to their inability to stop the senseless taxi killings.
The current spate of violence and killing jeopardizes the agreements between my Department and the taxi industry leadership structure, including a financial agreement in terms of which the Department supports the leadership with meeting allowances, office space and administrative support.
A partnership between the Department of Transport and Public Works and the minibus taxi industry like the Red Dot transport service, a fleet of 100 minibus taxis that transported over 110 000 healthcare workers during curfew times in lockdown, showed us a shining example of what can be achieved if we work together. The industry has for far too long operated without significant investment and support from government.
In addition to the support, my Department implemented the highly successful and innovative Red Dot Taxi service as an emergency transport response to the COVID-19 pandemic and worked well with the taxi industry. Building on the successes of Red Dot, we have expanded this partnership into another programme, the Blue Dot.
I launched the ground-breaking Blue Dot Taxi pilot project last month and this initiative will see the participation of approximately 1 300 vehicles, distributed across the regions, in a new incentive programme which will reward improved driving behaviour and higher-quality service, while encouraging fewer illegal operations and less conflict.
Blue Dot Taxi has the potential to be a game-changer for public transport in the Western Cape, resulting in real and lasting improvement for both the passengers and the industry.
The minibus taxi industry is vital to our economy, providing transport to hundreds of thousands of our citizens every day. It transports more people in the Western Cape than any other form of public transport.
I call on law abiding citizens and taxi operators to work together with the police to identify hitmen and paymasters who tarnish the image of an industry and of operators who seek to earn a living through offering a much needed service to the poorest communities.
Spokesperson for Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela
Tel: 021 483 8067
Cell: 082 953 0026