PLEA FOR CALM
‘A firm leader’: Cape Town reels from assassination of Codeta taxi boss
‘We are still shocked,’ said Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi about the murder of one of its leaders in Cape Town. It comes in the same week that the operating contract of the MyCiTi N2 Express route service between Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha and the Cape Town CBD was to be signed.
The transport industry in Cape Town is in shock following the killing of Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) leader Mzoxolo Cecil Dibela in Cape Town.
The 45-year-old taxi operator, who owned taxis on the Somerset West- Khayelitsha route, was killed on Monday afternoon, police confirmed. In response to queries, Western Cape police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said Harare police arrived at the crime scene at Monwabisi Beach in Khayelitsha on Monday afternoon to find the body of a man with gunshot wounds to his head. He was declared dead by medical personnel. “The motive for the attack is taxi related… the unknown suspects fled the scene and are yet to be arrested.”
Dibela was also deputy chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) Western Cape.
However, Codeta spokesperson Andile Khanyi told Daily Maverick that, at this point, “we really don’t know what the motive was”. He said Dibela was a “great leader” who was committed to the transformation of the taxi industry.
Following the news of Dibela’s death on Tuesday morning, transport and public works MEC Daylin Mitchell said: “Since my appointment… in May 2021, I have been working very closely with Mr Dibela in dealing with challenges facing the taxi industry. Mr Dibela formed part of the leadership delegations that I have been engaging in my efforts to end the taxi violence between Cata and Codeta.”
“He was a firm leader who showed dedication to change the image of the minibus taxi industry.”
The past few years have been turbulent for Cape Town’s taxi industry owing to sustained disputes between operators over lucrative routes and leadership struggles. In 2021, Codeta and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) were locked in a dispute over the operating rights to the B97 taxi route, between Mbekweni in Paarl and the Bellville taxi rank. This forced Mitchell to close the route in Mbekweni to both Cata and Codeta operators for two months from July, but he closed it for a further three months from the end of November.
In August 2021, Cata and Codeta agreed to a ceasefire to allow operations to continue in Cape Town, after days of commuters having to find alternatives due to taxi drivers not wanting to risk being caught up in shootings.
Read in Daily Maverick: It’s not yet uhuru, says Minister Mbalula, after Cape taxi associations agree to resume services
On Tuesday, Roberto Quintas, the mayoral committee member for transport, said: “I also want to condemn this brutality in the strongest possible terms as this alleged hit may lead to renewed conflict between the minibus taxi associations that operate across Cape Town. We are extremely concerned about the danger and disruption this may pose to commuters, operators, and all of those involved in the industry.”
Quintas said he would be calling for a meeting between Codeta, Mitchell and Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to see how help can be provided. “I am pleading with all parties to remain calm, and to work together for the benefit of our commuters and those employed by the industry.”
In addition, Quintas said Dibela was one of the signatories to the MyCiTi N2 Express route service between Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha and the Cape Town CBD. The service was suspended from April 2019, following disputes from the N2 Company, which had both Cata and Codeta as shareholders. “The operating contract with the N2 Company was to be signed this week… due to this tragic event, we are now faced with huge uncertainty about the signing of this operating contract and the future of the N2 Express service,” said Quintas. DM