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Cape Town taxi violence resurgence leaves 12 dead, many critically injured in early 2024

Cape Town taxi violence resurgence leaves 12 dead, many critically injured in early 2024
A vehicle that was set alight in Nyanga on Day 5 of the minibus taxi strike on 7 August, 2023 in Cape Town. (Photo by Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

Eight drivers, three taxi owners and a commuter have been killed so far this year in a resurgence of violence targeting members of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association.

At least 12 people have been killed, including one passenger caught in the crossfire following sporadic taxi violence and related shootings in Cape Town with over 17 shooting incidents so far this year. The attacks have all taken place in areas operated by taxis belonging to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata).

Eight drivers, three taxi owners, and one passenger have lost their lives so far. Some drivers and passengers were injured in other incidents, but their actual number has not been confirmed.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town commuters gripped by fear after five taxi operators shot, 3 dead

These shootings have taken place mainly in the Delft, Nyanga, Crossroads and Philippi areas.

All these areas are operated by taxis belonging to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata).

The youngest driver to be killed was 20 years old. According to police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk, he was fatally shot at the corners of Sheffield and Moonwood Drive, Browns Farm, Nyanga on Saturday, 10 February.

“Police were called out to a shooting incident at the above-mentioned address where they found the body of a 20-year-old male lying on the driver side with multiple gunshot wounds to the body. The motive seems to be possible taxi related.”

The unknown shooters fled the scene and are yet to be caught by the authorities.

In another shooting incident, on 5 February 2024 on the C/O Sheffield and Eisleben Road in Philippi, one woman was killed and two others were seriously injured.

Commuters were boarding when unknown gunmen armed with rifles opened fire on the taxi. The driver managed to run away, but a woman in her mid-30s succumbed to gunshot wounds in her upper body while two other passengers (a male and female) were rushed to a medical facility for treatment for gunshot wounds sustained to the face and back, respectively.

The gunmen are still at large and no arrests have been made.

Other incidents include the shooting of five operators on 30 January in Brown’s Farm, Philippi. Three died and two were left injured.

On 18 January, two taxi owners were shot and killed while exiting a meeting in Nyanga.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fears of taxi violence resurgence after two Cape Town owners gunned down

Internal conflict 

Usually, when there are killings in the taxi industry, it is between rival associations feuding over routes. An example is the B97 route which stretches between Bellville and Paarl.

In 2021, rival taxi associations Cata and Codeta were locked in a dispute over which group had the rights to the B97.

More than 80 people were killed between January and August 2021 amid accusations of route invasions and extortion.

But this time, the killings are linked to internal conflict at one association: Cata. In a nutshell, it is understood that Cata members are allegedly killing and injuring other Cata members.

This is allegedly over two lucrative routes from Nyanga to Cape Town CBD and Sea Point. This was revealed by taxi drivers from Cata, the association that operates on these routes.

Association spokesperson Nkululeko Sityebi told Daily Maverick on Wednesday afternoon that it was incorrect to say this was a Cata conflict.

“All the killings are linked to the Cape Town and Sea Point route operated by Cata,” he said. “Not all Cata routes are experiencing this so, it can’t be categorised as a Cata conflict.

“We are still trying to gather all our members in one place to discuss this, but it’s been a challenge because some of our members are still away.”

While Sityebi did not divulge why the routes were at the centre of the conflict, Daily Maverick has established that some owners want lucrative routes to themselves only and are eliminating those standing in their way.

Sityebi said commuter safety is their priority but as the association, they have no control over the shootings as they happen randomly.

“We cannot guarantee the safety of the commuters. Only the police can help with that because we don’t know where the threat comes from.”

SA Taxi Council Western Cape’s Nceba Enge said as the mother body, they have met with Cata to try and get to the bottom of the conflict.

“The executives also do not know, but we are hoping that a solution is found as soon as possible.”

taxi violence, protests

Taxis block roads around the CBD on 1 August 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa after several minibuses were impounded around the city. (Photo: Gallo Images / ER Lombard)

Taxi protest

On Tuesday afternoon, there was speculation that the taxis might go on strike as they appeared to be blocking the entrance of the Cape Town taxi rank. Daily Maverick discovered that taxis were being fined and impounded by traffic officials and drivers had consequently blocked the roads in protest. A SAPS Public Order Police official managed to quell this by asking the officers to halt their operations and told the drivers to move their vehicles for traffic to flow.

Drivers fear speaking publicly about how the shootings have affected them, but those who spoke anonymously said they are considering staying at home if the taxi violence continues.

Nyanga taxi rank is being guarded by heavily armed security.

MEC of Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie said his thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in the targeted attacks over the last few weeks.

“This violence is despicable and it undermines trust in transport services that are essential to our country’s development,” said Mackenzie

“Our Mobility Department officials are doing all it takes, alongside the South African Police Service and industry leadership, to intervene and stabilise the situation, following the latest spate of minibus taxi-related attacks. Our teams have been on the ground, meeting with key stakeholders in the areas where there is conflict and providing support to negotiations, including independent mediation services.”

Taxi violence, protest

Taxis blocking roads around Cape Town CBD. (Photo: Gallo Images / ER Lombard)

Taxi strike negotiations 

Talks between government departments and Santaco are ongoing following the deadly taxi strike in August.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape taxi strike updates

A Minibus Taxi Task Team was established to define a list of major offences in terms of which vehicles will be impounded and to define less serious offences for which the municipality will continue to issue fines.

The parties failed to reach an agreement last year and it was agreed that the negotiations would continue into 2024, with the next meeting scheduled to take place in February.

The taxi industry cannot launch an impromptu strike in the Western Cape due to a court order and an agreement between Santaco and the government in 2023. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Meanwhile SAPS does nothing, maybe not even waking up being Taxi violence!

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      During cash in transit heists they activate teams in numbers to protect money but cannot do the same for taxi passengers and the drivers it’s pathetic.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    While the fat cats of taxi business fight about money and routes people die

  • ST ST says:

    This is not something that would happen in an ANC led or similar government. In fact it is probably a pipe dream. If it were to happen, it would need a government with a very strong stomach, public patience, lots of investment in infrastructure and public safety amongst other things.

    The Taxi industry in SA must be dismantled and replaced with a functioning public transport system. The industry has failed to regulate its self for decades. During that time it has repeatedly put the lives of its business owners, employees, economy, and the public in grave danger. They have the ability to hold each other, the public and the government at ransom. They create and harbour murderers.

    A new system can absorb the existing drivers into safe and secure employment as well as into the tax-paying community. The owners can be supported in other ways. Those amongst the drivers and owners who are guilty of the heinous crimes must located and jailed with ought bail or parole, like all known mustered should

    • andrew farrer says:

      this is not something that would happen in an anc led government???????? WTF, it’s happening because of the anc led government and police! Let’s see a list of all senior police and politians who own/ have links to taxi owners

  • Such unnecessary deaths for something that they can resolve with a dialogue but ke we know that is how they operate, they first want to murder others then decide to talk and resolve things peacefully

  • Natasha B says:

    Things were far less chaotic, stressful and violent when all the taxis were impounded…..If it wasn’t for the good, honest, hardworking people who depend on the taxis to get to work…..I honestly would vote for them to ALL be banned from our roads and other forms of transport with no interest in killing people, disrupting MyCiti Buses, Killing and threatening uber drivers, acting like psychopaths near to my child’s school in Tokai yesterday……The majority of Taxi drivers are crazy!

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