Attempted extortion by minibus taxi associations puts children’s safety at risk | Western Cape Government



Attempted extortion by minibus taxi associations puts children’s safety at risk

13 February 2023

This morning I visited Academia Primary School, where over 50% of their learners have been prevented from going to school, due to an illegal blockade of learner transport operations by minibus taxi associations.

Today, their absenteeism rate is 90%.

Minibus taxi association members have been threatening and harassing our contracted drivers to prevent them from transporting learners. This is an attempt to muscle in on transport contracts and to extort money from the Western Cape Education Department.

The blockade has affected up to 2 400 learners last week, depriving them of their constitutional right to education, and we await feedback from our schools as to the number of learners affected today. This includes our special needs learners, where a driver was forced to turn back as he feared for his safety and took learners home.

This comes after a taxi strike kept over 128 000 children and 2 400 staff members home from school last year, and disrupted the matric exams.

Minibus taxi associations are demonstrating that in order to line their own pockets, they are willing to compromise the matric exams and compromise teaching and learning in our schools, sacrificing the best interest of our children.

The minibus taxi associations have also been spreading disinformation, claiming that they were promised contracts by the Western Cape Education Department. This is false.

Here are the facts:

The minibus taxi associations appear to be demanding that we allocate transport contracts to them without following tender processes, which we cannot and will not do. It is simply illegal.

Let us be clear: the Western Cape Education Department will not meet with any minibus taxi association until they terminate their blockade, and teaching and learning resumes without disruption.

They have now allegedly issued a threat to “offload” learners from any transport not operated by minibus taxi association members, posing a serious threat to our children’s safety. This allegedly includes parents driving their children to school because their usual transport is not operating.

Today, I will meet with Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, to discuss exactly what the South African Police Service will be doing to stop this attempted extortion and intimidation by the taxi industry, and to ensure that our learners return safely to school.

This attempted extortion is a crime against our learners, and it must stop immediately.

Media Enquiries: 

Kerry Mauchline
Spokesperson to Minister David Maynier
Western Cape Ministry of Education