Taxi drivers

South Africa: Taxi drivers refuse to travel to dangerous Cape Town

“Community members and security forums in Philippi must stand up and demand more police visibility,” says taxi association

Taxi operators in Philippi East, Cape Town, stopped transporting residents to the area after 4 p.m.

The move was made late last year after numerous incidents of drivers being robbed and assaulted by criminals during evening drop-offs.

Police say they are working with the community to mitigate crime. They say there are enough patrol vehicles “to provide effective service to the community”. But residents say they have stopped reporting the incidents to the police.

Taxi operators in Philippi East, Cape Town, stopped transporting residents to the area after 4 p.m. The move was made late last year after numerous incidents of drivers being robbed and assaulted by criminals during evening drop-offs.

“Community members and security forums in Philippi must stand up and demand greater police visibility. It is not our duty as taxi associations to provide public safety,” says Nkululeko Sityebi, Public Relations Manager of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA).

He says the drivers no longer want to risk their lives to transport people to Philippi East. He says taxi drivers were robbed at gunpoint with criminals firing shots in the air just to scare them off.

“The drivers have had enough…The association supports the taxi drivers’ decision not to enter the area,” he said.

Makhosandile Tumana, spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), said their drivers no longer travel to the area due to the high likelihood of something happening to their members.

Tumana says they have already met with Commander of Philippi East Police Station to try to find a solution to no avail. “We alerted the station commander to the theft of our taxis. He promised police vans would be visible at peak times in the area, but that never happened.”

In response to our questions about policing and the crime rate in Philippi, Captain Frederick Van Wyk of the Western Cape Provincial Media Center said he could not divulge policing tactics. , but added that he was working with local community groups.

“Sufficient patrol vehicles are deployed in the area to provide an effective service to the community. The police carry out patrols, stop and search operations, vehicle checkpoints and are at times supported by officers traffic,” he said.

Commuters are dropped off outside the Philippi East Police Station. They either have to pay for private car taxis (Amaphela) offering shared rides or travel the distance to where they are staying.

Commuters we spoke to are not happy about this.

Dineo Siyona, lives in Lower Crossroads and works in Wynberg. After work, she has to phone her brother to take him to the police station after 7:30 p.m. so that he can walk home.

“I understand where the taxi drivers come from, but the area is not safe for us who live here.” She says residents have given up on reporting the incidents to the police, fearing retaliation or nothing being done about the matter.

Another resident, who asked that her name be withheld, said the taxi drivers’ decision was costing her more than she could afford to pay for transportation each month.

She takes a sedan taxi (iphela) at 7am from her house to the taxi rank which costs R10. She says the money could instead be used to buy bread for her children.

A member of the Philippi East street committee told GroundUp that the rise in crime in the area has not only driven taxis away, but many landlords and tenants have also abandoned their properties. She pointed to several empty apartments and RDP homes in Lower Crossroads.

“These houses are now left vacant for thugs to use for their dirty business,” she said.