Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says arrests have been made in connection with the taxi violence that has affected Cape Town over the past two weeks.
The ongoing taxi industry-related violence has left an estimated 82 people dead since January this year due to a dispute between two taxi associations – the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) – who are fighting over control of a route between Paarl and Mbekweni.
Members of the South African Police Services (Saps) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have since been deployed to Cape Town.
Major public transport routes in the city have also been affected by attacks on taxis.
No agreement reached
Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, Mbalula said talks to resolve loading rights disputes between Cata and Codeta were currently deadlocked, however, government was allowing them to continue.
“Following days of engagement with Cata and Codeta, who have yet to find each other on the resolution of the conflict, we have agreed to afford the two associations a further opportunity to find each other and agree on how to resolve the conflict.
“We welcome the fact that no party has walked away from the negotiating table and that there is willingness among the parties to continue negotiations.
“Having taken note that the talks between these parties have failed to make any significant progress thus far, government is undertaking its own assessment, guided by its obligation to protect the lives of innocent people, on the implementation of the provisions of the law,” he said.
The minister revealed that Western Cape transport MEC Daylin Mitchell had gazetted a general notice on the action government would take if negotiations failed.
“This notice outlined proposed actions, which the provincial government will have to resort to in the event where Cata and Codeta fail to find one another and arrive at an amicable solution,” he said.
Mbalula called for the violence to stop, further stating that government would not hesitate to unleash the full might of the law.
He further indicated that government would announce a task team of eminent persons next week to deal with taxi violence, adding that arrests had been so far.
“There have been some arrests that have been undertaken by the police. I think about 12 people or more have been arrested with guns and all of that. That’s why I saluted the police for a job well done in that regard, but we need to get to the kingpins,” he added.
No incidents reported
Western Cape MEC for community safety, Albert Fritz, said that there were no incidents of taxi-related violence reported by the South African Police Services (Saps) from Tuesday overnight and until Thursday afternoon.
“The significant increase in Saps and law enforcement presence has brought calm to taxi ranks across the city. We are monitoring the situation very closely. We are in constant contact with the Saps and the metro police, and we are working to ensure that our citizens are safe,” Fritz said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Mitchell said that government was working on a plan for commuters affected by the violence considering that there are limited transport services.
The MEC, however, assured commuters that there would be law enforcement on the ground.
“We’ve engaged Golden Arrow buses, and from the rail perspective, we’ve increased visibility from a security aspect. We can no longer be held hostage by a few,” he said.
As of Thursday, the Golden Arrow Bus Service was operating at 80% capacity.