Taxi drivers versus Masiphumelele

Residents are boycotting taxis, while taxi drivers are vetting who goes in and out of the township

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Photo of boy walking past canal in Masiphumelele.
Masiphumelele is a township in the south peninsula of Cape Town. Photo: Masixole Feni

There is a showdown between the residents of Masiphumelele and taxi drivers. Yesterday, a meeting was held between taxi drivers, including Nqazeleni Matayitayi, the General Secretary of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata), but no agreement was reached.

Masiphumelele’s residents have decided to boycott taxis because taxi drivers refused to support the residents’ protest last week in support of Lubabalo Vellem. Vellem, a popular leader in the Masiphumelele community, is accused of murder, assault, attempted murder and public violence, relating to the mob justice murder of a man on 15 September and the assault of another man on 29 September.

The protest action included a lockdown of the township, meaning no one was allowed to enter or leave last Tuesday, except to march to the court trial of Vellem at Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court. The taxi owners or drivers opposed this.

Last Monday, taxi industry people shot at and beat up residents for supporting the lockdown. Some residents were injured. It is this that led to the decision to boycott the taxis. One resident told GroundUp he had been shot in the hand. “I did not have anything to defend myself,” he said. “I can no longer support my family because I cannot work.”

Today, representatives of the taxi industry, some from outside Nyanga, are allegedly blocking people from leaving the township if they are using private cars and it is deemed that there are too many people in the vehicle. Every car entering or leaving the township is being checked. Also, a primary school teacher was beaten while going to fetch his child. Other residents were beaten up in taverns or while walking on the road. Some residents have lodged complaints with the police against the drivers.

This is a developing story. Facts remain murky.

TOPICS:  Masiphumelele Transport

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

My suppliers driver arrived with my stock yesterday morning looking grey in the face with worry, he was distressed, broken and emotional. We chatted for a while and i left him with a smile, but for how long will he smile. He escaped Masi this morning to go to work. He works hard every day just like everyone of us. I am broken with the idea that such gangster behavior has taken over this area...with all the good people that come out of there, my heart breaks.

I watched the old and young women and men walk while the young men walked and ran in groups from Fish Hoek to Masi. Do you know how far that is and I sobbed? They are tired from the day and still have to be belittled like this. How do we change this now, not later? What has become of us? I pray that the Dear Lord lends a merciful hand and accepts that we (Man) cause our own trauma and mistakes but beg for forgiveness and assistance.

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