- Taxi operators are protesting against the impounding of their vehicles by Cape Town law enforcement.
- The City of Cape Town and taxi operators have been involved in a dispute over permits.
- Golden Arrow buses and other vehicles were set alight amid protests on Friday.
Seven people were arrested on Friday as violent protests saw a police van, a bus, and private vehicles set alight and stoned in Cape Town.
Taxi operators in Nyanga, Crossroads, and Samora Machel protested, claiming that the City of Cape Town had failed to issue permits for their vehicles.
Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said police officers were deployed in the area after protests broke out on Friday morning.
Van Wyk said:
Tyres were set alight on roads into the area, and a security hut at the Nyanga clinic was set alight. The clinic was not damaged. Protesters also set a delivery vehicle alight on Luzuko Road. Four police vehicles were damaged during the protest, with three vehicles stoned and a fourth one set alight.
A Golden Arrow bus was also torched. A passenger was injured in the leg during the attack, said Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer.
The latest attack led to Golden Arrow withdrawing its services from Nyanga and operating from Borcherds Quarry Road.
“We once again call on the authorities to ensure that our drivers and passengers are able to travel freely and safely. This is an issue that requires urgent attention. The people of Nyanga and surrounding areas should not have to live in fear when they are simply trying to get to work and school,” said Dyke-Beyer.
Police are investigating cases of public violence and malicious property damage. Seven people, aged 20 to 27, were arrested and would appear in court once charged, said Van Wyk.
The protest is said to stem from law enforcement’s impoundment of vehicles operating without permits. However, taxi operators say the City of Cape Town has failed to issue permits.
Makhosandile Tumana, the spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council, said the permitting issue was widespread and wasn’t unique to Nyanga.
“The licensing issue is a challenge faced by every operator in the metropole. The City is not issuing enough permits for the operators to have legal documents so they can operate freely in their areas, for reasons unknown to us. They always mention that the roads are oversaturated, so they don’t want to issue permits,” said Tumana.
Tumana said a meeting between the City and taxi associations needed to take place if any resolution was to be reached.
“If they can consult us to come up with an amicable solution to deal with those problems that they have, because at the end, it is us who are operating in the areas, and we know exactly what is happening around the issue of operating licenses that are not issued (sic). We want to sit down with them to discuss why they don’t want to issue the permits,” said Tumana.
Earlier this week, City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Urban Mobility Rob Quintas said in 2015, the Urban Mobility Directorate agreed to support the issuing of 400 operating licences for the Kiki Murray Taxi Association (Amaphela) in the Nyanga-Crossroads area. However, only 230 of these operating licence applications had been successful.
The violence erupted last week after 21 taxis were impounded by the City of Cape Town, as part of a massive clampdown on illegal operations.
During protests last week, angry taxi operators set fire to four Golden Arrow buses and one City vehicle.
On Wednesday, a City Dial-a-Ride vehicle was stoned and a Golden Arrow vehicle set alight.
Nyanga Community Police Forum spokesperson Dumisani Qwebe believed the City was blindly enforcing traffic laws without communicating with the taxi industry. He said commuters were most affected by the violence, with many of them missing school and work.
Samora Machel Community Police Forum spokesperson Bongani Maqungwana said communities in these areas had all but come to a standstill.
“The community is affected badly because there is no free movement, and everyone is in fear. It is affecting the township economy, and we don’t know when this is going to come to an end. Law enforcement, I can say, is trying their best to keep the situation under control, but we cannot guarantee the sustainability of that operation,” he said.