Some Du Noon pupils attending primary schools outside the township have been prevented from attending school this week by taxi drivers opposing the use of private cars to transport the learners.Since Monday taxi owners and drivers affiliated with the Du Noon Taxi Associations (DTA) have blockaded the main roads out of the township – Dumani and Usasadza Roads – and beaten up the drivers of cars in full view of the learners they were transporting.
But by Thursday morning parents had had enough.
About 100 parents marched to the taxi rank and proceeded to Potsdam Road running out of the township, chanting and carrying placards that read: “Taxi man you are traumatising our kids and our families. Stop this abuse now”.
Phumeza Ngesi, 31, who is a mother to two young children aged eight and five, said they were compelled to take it to the streets and voice “their fury” after taxi drivers beat up drivers operating privately hired vehicles.
“The children told us that the taxi drivers beat up the hired private cars’ drivers. The children were screaming. The taxi drivers ordered them to shut up and close their eyes while they beat the drivers,” said Ngesi.
She said the taxi drivers and their bosses were not only abusing the children but were causing them to fall behind in their studies.
“Our children are scared to go to school… really scared,” she said.
Another parent Fundiswa Beto, 26, who has two children aged two and ten, said taxi drivers and owners were “destroying the future for our children”.
Beto said her 10-year-old son, together with other learners, traveled everyday in a privately hired car to Durbanville Primary School. She said she paid the driver R280 per month for the service.
She said the advantage of the hired cars was that they came to pick up the children from their houses and dropped them at their doorstep after school.
Additionally, she said the minibus taxi’s were not safe as the drivers were rude and did not obey road rules.
“They want us to use their taxis, but their taxis are not safe, they are involved in accidents everyday,” said Beto.
DTA chairperson Sango Mkoko confirmed that taxi owners and drivers had since Monday been stopping cars that did have permits to transport people.
But Mkoko denied that drivers had been beaten.
He said they started investigating the situation after they noticed a decline in the number of passengers using their taxis.
“We do patrols all over Du Noon and catch private cars that are not allowed to transport commuters,” said Mkoko.
He said they had stopped 32 private cars that were transporting people “illegally” this week.
He said since yesterday’s march, which police observed, a meeting between police, taxi owners and the drivers of privately contracted cars was called.
Police warned taxi bosses that only police and traffic officials had the right to stop cars on the road, and warned privately hired drivers that they needed valid permits to transport passengers.
Milnerton Police spokesperson Daphne Dell confirmed the conflict over transport in Du Noon this week.
Dell said a meeting was held at the DTA rank where police and traffic officers resolved the situation. — Peter Luhanga, West Cape News