Controversial Cape Town taxi association distances itself from bus attacks


A week ago, the City of Cape Town said it had impounded 19 amaphela taxis and two minibus taxis for operating without a valid permit or contravening permits. Hours after the vehicles were impounded, four Golden Arrow buses and one service delivery truck belonging to the city were attacked.

Coordinated mayhem dominates the roads in townships such as Nyanga, Guguletu, Crossroads and Phillipi East on the Cape Flats, where residents depend on unlicensed sedan taxis known as “amaphela”, a Xhosa word for cockroach. 

Despite being suspected by authorities and residents of being responsible for numerous violent attacks on “competing” means of public transport, amaphela drivers maintain their innocence, saying they too are “scared” when they hear of the torching of buses, a crime that is not uncommon in the Western Cape or other provinces.  

“Honestly, I cannot tell you the number of amaphela, it is a lot. Even the members of Amaphela, it’s a lot. But most of us do not have permits. Although the city granted us permits, it is a challenge getting it,” said Amaphele Taxi Association general secretary Richard Ndlebe. 

Nyanga agreed to discuss allegations of violence levelled at the association. The meeting took place at the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) meeting rooms at the Nyanga taxi rank. Cata, of which Amaphela is a branch, has been involved in violent turf wars in the province. 

The Amaphela Taxi Association was previously known as the Kiki Murray Taxi Association. 

Outside, a strong easterly wind carries rain over the township, forcing residents to use local transport to travel from their homes to the taxi rank, from where a minibus taxi or bus will take them to work in the city.

With limited transport opportunities available, amaphela taxis — the majority of which are Toyota Avanzas — stand ready to fill the gap. For R10 a trip, amaphela ferry passengers to various locations in the township. They seldom cover long distances.  

Inside the meeting room, taxi routes are meticulously outlined on pieces of A2-paper covering the walls, a stark contrast to the mayhem motorists experience — and the fear passengers have to endure — when unlicensed taxis openly disobey traffic regulations. 

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