Metro police officers stop and search all taxi's entering the station deck at Cape Town Station. Pictute: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Metro police officers stop and search all taxi's entering the station deck at Cape Town Station. Pictute: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Taxi Violence: The problem does sit with the National Land Transportation Act, says JP Smith

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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Op-Ed by Basil Nagel (Cape Argus 27 July) refers, “JP Smith, who does a taxi war actually benefit?“

The point I made during the interview in question is a position that I have consistently held over many years, and have previously tabled in meetings and in public.

Mr Nagel is one of several role-players who share this sentiment – however, it is not possible for all of them to take that position publicly.

I agree with him that the problem sits with the National Land Transportation Act (NLTA), but I do wish to point out that this is national legislation and not something that the provincial government or the City can amend.

On the enforcement side, I will say that this municipality is achieving something that no other municipality in the country is attempting to do, and that is with very limited resources to hold the taxi industry accountable for bad driving and for encroaching on routes where they are not entitled to be (which fuels the taxi violence).

During the last financial year, our Traffic Service impounded 6 688 taxis.

Last week, our enforcement agencies made five firearm-related arrests and confiscated weapons in all of these instances from people involved in the taxi conflict by using our CCTV cameras and through the constant monitoring of key transportation routes.

What now needs to happen is something that many MECs in the province have bemoaned as far back as Robin Carlisle, and that is to call for the criminal justice system to start showing some results with arrests and convictions of those responsible for these assassinations and murders.

I do want to thank the Western Cape police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile for his swift action during this last conflict and the rapid establishment of a task team to drive the investigations and try and ensure that the public see justice to be done.

We have in many press statements over the last few years pointed out how rapidly the taxis that we impound for operating illegally reclaim their vehicles, and pay the very hefty impoundment fee which does not seem to deter them.

We have repeatedly called for changes to existing legislation to ensure that vehicles repeatedly caught in the act of encroaching on routes may actually be forfeited or confiscated.

Other matters raised, such as the right of people to purchase taxis and the fact that this is not regulated and contributes to the constant oversupply, are also matters that the NLTA would need to address and that falls beyond the scope of local or provincial legislative mandate.

Mr. Nagel raises several valid points, but sadly those challenges are not under my control or else I would do something about them, starting with identifying the people responsible for paying the triggermen who assassinate taxi leaders and target buses, placing many innocent lives at risk.

Regarding the question about who benefits from a taxi war – I suspect that those forces are more insidious and have agendas that serve entirely different self-enriching outcomes.

However, the investigative and criminal justice tools required to prove this do not lie in my hands and we will therefore need to rely on the process that the SAPS provincial commissioner has initiated to get us those answers and perhaps the taxi industry must start being more insistent and demanding outcomes and justice for every taxi murder over the last decade.

* Alderman JP Smith, City of Cape Town.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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