Taxi drivers fear for their safety

Taxis have opted to drop people at Philippi East police station because they are being robbed.

It may sound unbelievable that taxis and some Amaphela are no longer doing pick-ups and drop-offs in Lower Crossroads. However, this is happening because the drivers fear for their safety.

The residents claimed that taxis had been robbed so many times that they had decided to drop off people at Philippi East police station instead of going into the area.

Residents are now forced to walk all the way from the police station to wherever they need to be.

A community leader, whose identity is known to Vukani but who does not want her name published because she fears for her safety, said this started around October last year.

She said taxis were being repeatedly robbed by criminals and that some drivers had been attacked. Therefore, she said, the drivers had decided not to pick up or drop off passengers in Lower Crossroads.

She said those who drove around in Avanzas were taking a risk as crime levels in the area escalated.

“I fear for my safety. I can’t give out my name and surname even though I’m a leader. We are frustrated as residents here. We have no idea how we are going to resolve this.

“It is by the grace of God that we survive each day. Lower Crossroads is hell,” she said.

Some Avanzas are driving through the area while others are not, fearing for their safety .

Mandla Hermanus, the secretary for the Nyanga branch of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA), said it had been brought to their attention some time last year that their taxis were being robbed at gunpoint by criminals in the area.

He said the criminals would often take the drivers’ money and would also rob passengers before running away.

Therefore, he said, they decided, in the interest of the safety of their drivers, not to do drop-offs and pick-ups in that community.

Instead, he said, the drivers dropped passengers next to the police station or at Luzuko mini taxi rank.

He said they had informed the station commander of Philippi East police station about this matter on a number of times but nothing had been done.

He said they had tried to conduct patrols but their members were not armed or trained to deal with such matters.

“We fear for the safety of our passengers and drivers so we can’t risk it. We do not know these criminals and we have been informed that these are children between the ages of 14 and 19.

“This has impacted our business badly,” he said.

Ward councillor, Mboniswa Chitha, confirmed that taxis were no longer dropping people inside their community and that residents now had to walk long distances to reach their homes or take Iphela to their homes.

He said he had engaged the taxi owners about the incidents and had also met with police about the matter.

Spokesman for Philippi-East police station, Captain Granville Meyer, said they took the community’s concerns about crime very seriously. And, he said: “With the extortion of business owners, taxi drivers and individuals high on our priority list, our members are doing visible patrols and visiting businesses to enable to arrest the criminals.”

He added that police conduct weekly awareness programmes and pointed out that there had been no robberies reported by taxi drivers during the first month of this year.

Captain Meyer urged anyone who has information that will help in expediting extortion cases, to contact the SAPS Western Cape Extortion Hotline on 021 466 0011.

All information received will be handled in strict confidence.