Fear and violence as taxi wars grip Cape Town

Things may have been calmer in KZN and Gauteng this week, but Cape Town has been rocked by its own crisis: taxi violence. A dormant dispute between the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) over the Paarl to Belville route flared up into open warfare once more. There were some clashes about the route earlier in July, but within four days the rival associations and government officials had signed a ceasefire agreement. If this sounds like war talk, that’s because it is. Not even a day after the signing a Codeta-affiliated taxi driver was shot and killed in Khayelitsha; on 13 July, three more taxi drivers were shot dead, also in Khayelitsha. 

The violence has escalated in the past week. Golden Arrow Bus Services had to limit its presence on the roads after one of its drivers was shot and injured, allegedly by taxi drivers. Reports suggest that up to 100 000 commuters have been left stranded; many businesses have ground to a halt because their employees can’t safely reach work or return home. Some people have been rising even earlier than usual and walking long distances to get to work. It’s a huge, dangerous mess. Provincial and national government representatives have engaged with the taxi associations to end the violence. But how long will any newly brokered deal last? The government needs to pro-actively invest more time and money into building a competent, safe state-owned public transport system. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 22 July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.