School transport drivers speak out against ’victimisation’

This is the letter one has to produced when you drive through Nyanga and Gugulethu.

Transporting pupils to schools from the townships is becoming a big challenge, with some transport operators from Gugulethu, Lowercross Roads, Nyanga Luzuko, Siqalo and Phillipi claiming that they are being victimised and made to pay hefty fines for not having permit to operate along the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) route.

The charter and scholar transport drivers fear that children will be caught in a feud.

The operators, who said there had been an increase in the number of attacks against them, are demanding that Cata and government intervene to quell the growing tensions between them and the Kiki Murray Taxi Association, an affiliate of Cata.

They said victimisation had become commonplace in Nyanga. But Cata spokesman Mandla Hermanus said his association had not heard of such “thuggery and criminal behaviour”.

Scholar transport drivers who held a meeting with the media last Friday but asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said they were being targeted by Cata-affiliated taxi owners in Nyanga and Gugulethu.

Members of charter and scholar transport had a meeting last Friday to discuss the challenges they face.

Every morning, they say, they are followed and escorted to Nyanga terminus when they are to made to pay fines ranging from R1 500 to R3 000 for not having a permit.

Once they’ve paid, they are issued with a permit. And this is in addition to their official permits which authorise them to transport school children.

One driver showed Vukani his receipt for a payment of R3000. He said he had paid out of fear.

“They wait for you at the different spots and once they catch you you are taken to the Nyanga offices,” he said, showing Vukani both his original permit and as well as the new one issued by the Kiki Murray and the government one.

They are using different cars to follow us. It has become difficult to pass Nyanga or fetch kids in Gugulethu. It is hard for us because we are not operating as minibus taxis but as scholars transport. We also have official permits for what we are doing,” said one showing us the new issued permit by Kiki Murray Taxi Association.

Scholar transport operators said it does not matter whether one’s taxi in marked or not, all is needed is permit from Cata.

One operator who claimed to have paid R700 because that was all he had, said he he had been warned that that if somebody else caught him on the same day, he would have to pay again. “They assured me that there is no guarantee that I won’t be caught again. The money I gave them was like a lunch box for them because I was not given any receipt for it,” he said.

Asked if they have reported the matter to police or Cata, they said they had not because they do not trust anyone.

In an effort to get comment from the Kiki Murray Taxi Association, Vukani called the numbers listed on the receipts and the permit but they went unanswered.

Mr Hermanus, however, has distanced Cata from the matter, saying that whoever was taking money from the drivers was acting on his or her own.

“This is criminality and thuggery. This is not Cata. We are not aware of that. Even our own children are using scholar transport. This is not interfering with minibuses at all. We cannot encourage such criminality at all,” he said.

He encouraged those concerned to contact their offices at Nyanga terminus. “But this is strange, people come to report to us when things like this happen or any other criminal act but with this one they are quiet. If they do not trust us, police are there because there is a criminal element to this. They must go open up a case. We cannot allow children to be denied education,” said Mr Hermanus.