Police clamp down on taxis after tense stand-off

Police held vehicle checkpoints in Bellville today

Belrail residents are living in fear after a tense stand-off between two taxi associations on their doorsteps. 

Taxi drivers from the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) parked their vehicles in opposite directions, blocking a road in Belrail on Tuesday to stop each other from operating. The incident spooked residents who feared a violent clash was imminent and sent commuters in search of alternative transport.

Impromptu taxi ranks have sprung up in Belrail in recent months, after the Paint City refugee camp took over parking they had once used, and there have been shootings in the vicinity (“Taxi trouble in Bellville,” Northern News, August 28).

Bellville police and traffic officers held a joint operation on Wednesday morning to wrest control of the area back from the taxis, pulling them over at vehicle checkpoints in Strand Street, Robert Sobukwe Road and Old Paarl Road 

“In Old Paarl Road, 42 taxis were searched and 39 fines were issued to the value of R79 100, while six taxis were also impounded,” said Bellville police spokesman Captain Jonathan Blankenberg. “These types of operations will continue in order to tell the taxis that we are on patrol and will be looking to take a grip on the situation.”

Last Thursday, police arrested three men after a 30-year-old man was shot and killed on the field where the taxis have their illegal rank. 

“While police were escorting the suspects to their vehicles, the police were attacked with bricks and other objects as taxi drivers attempted to get their hands on the suspects,” Captain Blankenberg said. “The suspects appeared at Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Monday, September 13 where they were charged with murder.” 

Gerda Gerber, chairwoman of the Belrail Neighbourhood Watch, said residents were tired of living in fear and she had been inundated with complaints. 

“My phone is filled with complaints from everybody living here and asking when something will be done. I have forwarded those complaints to Sub-council 6 chairperson Mercia Kleinsmith, ward councillor Jackie Visser and the City but nothing is being done about it.” 

Ms Kleinsmith and Ms Visser passed our requests for comment to the City, which has yet to answer our questions. 

Cata and Codeta spokespersons said they were too busy dealing with the current situation to comment.