- Taxi operators in Philippi East have stopped transporting residents into the area after 16:00.
- The decision was taken late last year after numerous incidents of drivers being robbed and mugged.
- Police say they are working with the community to mitigate crime.
Taxi operators in Philippi East, Cape Town, have stopped transporting residents into the area after 16:00.
The decision was taken late last year after numerous incidents of drivers being robbed and mugged by criminals during evening drop-offs.
“Community members and safety forums in Philippi must stand up and demand more police visibility. It is not our duty as taxi associations to ensure public safety,” says Nkululeko Sityebi, the public relations officer of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA).
He says drivers no longer want to risk their lives to transport people to Philippi East. He says taxi drivers are being robbed at gunpoint, with criminals firing shots in the air just to scare them.
“The drivers have had enough … the association supports taxi drivers’ decision not to enter the area,” he said.
Makhosandile Tumana, the spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), says their drivers are also no longer going into the area because of the high probability of something happening to their members.
Tumana says they previously met the station commander of the Philippi East police station to try and reach a solution, but to no avail.
“We alerted the station commander about our taxis being robbed. He promised that police vans would be visible during peak hours 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 centre, said they could not disclose policing tactics, but added they were working with local community groups.
“Sufficient patrol vehicles are deployed in the area to provide an effective service to the community. The police are conducting patrols, stop and search operations, vehicle checkpoints and are at certain times supported by traffic officers,” he said.
Commuters are dropped off outside the Philippi East police station. They then either have to pay for private car taxis (Amaphela) offering shared rides or walk the distance to where they stay.
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 get her at the police station after 19:30, so he can walk home with her.
“I understand where the taxi drivers are coming from, but the area isn’t safe for us who live here.”
She says residents have given up on reporting incidents to police, fearing retribution or that nothing would be done about a case.
Another resident, who asked that their name be withheld, said the decision by taxi drivers was costing her more than she could afford to pay for transport each month.
She takes a sedan taxi (iphela) at 07:00 from her house to the taxi rank, which costs R10. She says the money could rather be used to buy bread for her children.
A street committee member in Philippi East told GroundUp that the increase in crime in the area has not only chased taxis away, but many landlords and renters have also abandoned their properties.
She pointed out several empty flats and RDP houses in Lower Crossroads.
“These houses are now left vacant for thugs to use for their dirty dealing,” she said.