Cape Town’s minibus taxi operators are confiscating the vehicles of drivers who call online and charging them thousands of rand to get their cars back.
Earlier this week, MEC Daylin Mitchell of Western Cape Transport released a statement that his department had been inundated with complaints about it.
The plaintiffs allege that taxi drivers confiscated their vehicles when operating in certain communities and shopping malls.
“I recently engaged the leaders of the email and minibus taxi industry and asked them to condemn these criminal acts on the part of their members,” Mitchell said.
Uber, Bolt, and DiDi are some of the well-known email services that operate in the city.
“Commuters have the right to choose the transportation of their choice and not to be harassed and intimidated when choosing to use modes and forms of public transportation that are unsuitable for a selfish few who protect their vested interests,” Mitchell said.
He warned he would use “every legal avenue available” to stop the taxi operators’ actions.
“We have forwarded all reports of these serious crimes to SAPS and NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] with the request that these cases be prioritized,” Mitchell said.
“Enough is enough. Extortion will no longer be tolerated,” he said.
He added that any association or operator registered with the provincial taxi registrar found guilty of such a criminal act in court could be disbarred and their operating license revoked.
Mitchell also called on minibus taxi industry leaders to strongly speak out against ongoing criminal acts of extortion by their members.
But Mzoxolo Dibela, the head of the Santaco taxi industry association in the Western Cape, said told eNCA that some of those involved in the extortion were not legally operating in the taxi industry.
“Some of these people are not from the taxi industry itself. They just discredit our name,” Dibela said.
A former email operator told eNCA that working in the industry was no longer worth it. Other complainants said they were too afraid of being bullied or harassed to speak to the news station.
eNCA also reported that taxi operators have also targeted motorists carrying children in the city.