Law Enforcement Needed for Violence in Vrygrond, Steenberg, Seawinds
Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works
The intense violence now occurring in the Vrygrond, Steenberg, Seawinds area has claimed at least nine lives and could intensify if there is not a massive and continuing police lockdown in the area.
So far the violence has cost the lives of taxi drivers and gang members, and therefore the exact causes are not clear. The taxi violence is certainly now being amplified by criminal gang and drug related activities.
Since 2008 there have been incidences of route invasion and the illegal closing of routes, particularly in the Vrygrond area.
In 2009 this led to two taxi murders. The illegal activities were suppressed and for three years thereafter, there were no problems. During 2013, these routes were again illegally closed. The Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) then immediately intervened and commenced with dispute resolution, and later with disciplinary and punitive steps. Within two weeks of the latest disciplinary steps, the current violence commenced.
On Tuesday, 20 May 2014 I met with SAPS (generals Japhta and Molo), Provincial Traffic (Chief Africa), the City traffic and Metro heads as well as the SA National Taxi Council, Codeta and one of the local taxi associations. Deadlines were agreed to for a number of steps to reduce tension in the area, and ensure adequate police presence.
Today I received a memorandum from the Retreat Taxi Association and addressed their members, who are understandably anxious and angry.
As they are well aware, our PRE has been very active in the Capricorn, Vrygrond, Retreat, Steenberg, Seawinds area in a bid to effectively handle the existing disputes relating to the operation of a contested route.
When there is a conflict within the taxi industry between associations, we employ all measures, as per the law, to find the appropriate remedies. We will negotiate and mediate with affected associations, impose suspensions where such has been ineffective as well as move to deregister an association, as well as cancelling operating licenses where such is absolutely necessary. These are punitive measures that will and have been imposed, as per the law.
However, when gangs and drugs enter the fray, my department is unable to act on its own to resolve these problems. Such criminal activities fall squarely within the domain of the SAPS. We have met with SAPS and continue to work closely with them in ensuring that peace is restored. Unfortunately the disbandment of the Specialised Gang and Drug Police Units by the national ANC government has greatly reduced SAPS ability to deal effectively with crime of this transversal nature.
I have discussed the matter with my colleague Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety, who will request General Lamoer of SAPS urgent and massive intervention in this area, and the arrests of the criminal elements that are threatening peace both within the taxi industry and the broader community.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle
Ministry of Transport and Public Works
Cell: 084 233 3811
Tel: 021 483 8954