Taxi drivers versus Masiphumelele

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

Photo of boy walking past canal in Masiphumelele.

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

By GroundUp Staff

9 May 2016

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.