When a Goodwood woman boarded a taxi in Voortrekker Road on a Monday morning last month, she had no way of knowing she was about to face a three-hour ordeal during which she and four other passengers would be robbed at gunpoint.
People getting robbed in the very vehicles they rely on to get to and from work is a growing crime in the northern suburbs, say police.
Earlier this year, a woman was robbed and sexually assaulted in Parow after she boarded an empty taxi (“Woman assaulted on taxi,” Northern News, April 9).
On Monday June 24, it was the 54-year-old Goodwood woman’s turn to meet these modern-day highwaymen. She doesn’t want her name used because she fears being targeted, but she does want to warn others who use taxis to be on their guard.
“I got onto Voortrekker Road between the Pick n Pay, just before Halt Road, to get a taxi,” she recalls. “Then I saw two guys walking towards the taxi that I got into. I thought they were also taking the taxi.”
Little did she realise the men were part of a trap that had just sprung shut with her in it.
A man in a balaclava was already seated in the Quantum taxi, and he came to sit next to her.
“The man told me to hand over my bag, which had a R30 inside it, my cellphone, my wedding band, and he told me not to worry. The taxi also made a U-turn and drove back. Then I saw a man sitting at the back who flashed the handle of his gun and told me to sit at the back.”
At the back of the taxi, she met a man who had also been robbed after boarding the taxi near N1 City at about 5am.
“Most of the time, I just kept my head down and tried not to look around as there was a guy sitting in front of me with a gun,” says the woman. “An hour later, I saw we drove down Panorama Road where they picked up two other ladies who they also robbed.”
The driver, the three gunmen and a woman wielding a large pair of scissors with lilac handles were all in cahoots, she says.
She believes all the perpetrators were wearing masks, but she’s not certain because she was trying to keep her head down as much a possible.
Asked if she saw a taxi-association logo on or inside the vehicle, she says: “I only saw a teal sticker on the left-hand side that said ’taxi’, but I didn’t look around a lot as I mostly kept my head down.
“Later I overheard the driver tell his partner on the passenger side that his girlfriend may have had a miscarriage. We then drove through Ravensmead and landed up somewhere in Delft. The driver and his partner left to check up on her, and we parked there for an hour while the other guys that stayed behind watched us.”
The driver and his partner returned with three masked men who also boarded the taxi.
“When we left Delft, one of the suspects said they were ’taking us to the beach’. We later arrived at this empty space somewhere in Mfuleni covered in sand dunes with a long stretch of road running through it.
“When we stopped, they told us to get out and keep our heads down. Once we got outside, they drove away. We were still very shocked, but I said to them we should get out of here as we did not know if they would come back.”
The group then walked towards Mfuleni Street and began to hike in the main road for five minutes until a man in a white truck gave them a lift.
“As we were driving, we came across an accident scene in the main road where the Metro and Mfuleni police were. We asked the driver to stop so we could get out, and we ran to the police, explaining to them what had happened.
“They dropped me at Goodwood police station, I made a case and cancelled my bank cards. They also gave me someone to speak to for trauma counselling. I’m also grateful to the Metro and Mfuleni police that helped us at the accident scene.”
The woman says the robbers returned her handbag with only a R20 inside it, while all the other contents were stolen. She suffered from sleepless nights for a week after the incident.
Goodwood police spokesman Captain Wayne Theunis says they are investigating the case, and there have been similar incidents in the past few months.
“We have also made two arrests relating to this in the past month. Usually the modus operandi is that the suspects are inside the taxi and rob the victims at either gunpoint or knifepoint.”
Goodwood police, he says, have increased their visibility and patrols in hot spots for the crime, which are Voortrekker Road, Bellville and Vanguard Drive.
Bellville police spokesman Captain Jonathan Blankenberg says the taxi robberies have become common in Voortrekker Road and the Bellville CBD.
He could not confirm whether the perpetrators were pirate taxi operators or members of a registered taxi association.
Andile Hermanus, secretary for the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association, and Nazeem Abdurahman, chairman of the SA National Taxi Council, both told the Northern News they were unaware of the taxi robberies and did not wish to comment further on the matter.