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‘Everyone is tired of violence’ – new Western Cape chairman takes the wheel of taxi board

  • Santaco’s new chairman for the Western Cape, Mandla Hermanus, was not allowed to learn to drive until he had completed his studies.
  • Her late father was a taxi driver and insisted that his children get an education first.
  • When his father died, Hermanus ran the business for his mother and learned key administrative skills before eventually getting his own cab.

The new president of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) for the Western Cape, Mandla Hermanus, had to wait until he finished his studies before his taxi driver father let him get a driver’s license.

Speaking to News24 after his recent election to the post, Hermanus said his father insisted the Hermanus siblings finish school first, before stepping into the ranks where he spent very long hours. to provide for the needs of the family.

Taking the wheel decades later as Santaco Chairman for the Western Cape, Hermanus of the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) is a second-generation taxi operator and has his work cut out for him in his new role.

After a brutal time in the taxi industry, one of Hermanus’ main tasks will be to help keep passengers and operators happy through rollercoaster fuel prices and the sudden conflicts that erupt between associations. .

Drivers, passengers and bystanders were killed by gunfire last year in a route dispute that lasted for months.

Cata and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) both lost members to the violence.

Hermanus says things have improved considerably since then.

“We are in a good space with Codeta. Yesterday (Monday) we had a general meeting between ordinary operators, and we agreed: ‘Let’s put an end to the violence’.

“It was well received. Everyone is tired of the violence. People just want to get on with their lives. The violence has a lifelong financial impact.”

For Hermanus, the intricacies of the taxi business are nothing new, with his father waking up at 3 a.m. every day to start working his own taxi, and finally arriving home for dinner at 8 p.m.

Hermanus said that growing up, the Hermanus siblings weren’t allowed to get their licenses until they finished school.

“He didn’t want any of us kids near the taxi stand,” he said. “Education was very important to him.”

Originally from Nyanga, Cape Town, Hermanus’ initial career path from 1994 was to train in the new field of computerized administrative work. He then became a clerk and data collector for retail brand Edgars.

After that he joined the National Library of South Africa, starting as a program officer, working in the heritage program and then becoming a communications officer.

He left the National Library and worked at the Southern African Institute for Advancement, where he trained NGOs in fundraising techniques.

When his father died, he took over running the business for his mother, eventually buying his own cab, and was invited to join Cata.

However, he quickly realized that he was not cut out to be a driver.

He’s laughing:

These drivers have skills. I can not. If I were to drive the taxi from Nyanga to Bellville, it would take me an hour. The other guys would take 15 minutes.

And he found that customers don’t like slow drivers.

He noticed that there were no desks in the rows and no one to help the drivers and operators with the huge amount of administration they had to do. With years of administration expertise, he was employed to lead the administrative side of Cata’s operations.

Cape Town Central Taxi Station.

News24 PHOTO: Bertram Malgas/News24

“There is this idea that taxi drivers are rude, arrogant and heartless,” he said.

“I saw how regular passengers had built relationships with their regular operators. If someone didn’t have the money a few days before payday, the driver would let them travel with the understanding that they would would repay,” he said.

He also learned that there was always a “crazy driver”, who expected everyone to give way to him.

One of his goals as Santaco president for the province for the next four years is to get authorities to provide more minibus taxi lanes and to have law enforcement maintain actively keep other vehicles out of the lanes.

He said:

This would reduce the time it takes to get from one place to another. I don’t know why the government doesn’t want to.

They also want Cape Town to open its priority lane for public transport on the N2 for the outbound afternoon rush hour, instead of just for the inbound journey.

Another problem he will have to deal with is speculation that taxi operators are behind the burning of trains and buses, and the recent attacks on Intercape buses, so that they can make more money.

He said trains power taxis and when trains are set on fire, taxis lose huge revenue and commuters are severely delayed.

“They (taxis) will never have the capacity (to take as many passengers as trains), and there is no room in the ranks for the number of taxis that would be needed,” he said. declared.

The association’s umbrella body will also have to deal with perennial complaints that taxi associations engage in extortion and mobbing.

One of the simmering issues at the moment is not being able to get permits for a route to the fast-growing Brackengate warehouse belt, north of Cape Town – not even temporary permits.

“Not a single business license was issued to take people to work,” Hermanus noted.

He said:

But, as soon as a taxi drops people off, the vehicle is seized.

He asked why the Golden Arrow Bus Service had obtained a temporary permit to serve the suspended B97 in Paarl, but the taxis were told that regulations did not allow temporary permits for taxis.

With the spotlight on the attacks on Intercape buses last week, Hermanus said Cata, Codeta and Santaco met to discuss allegations that taxi operators were behind it.

He said they don’t know who is responsible for the attacks.

He explained that, in the Western Cape, taxis mainly take local routes, with inter-provincial trips being mainly for families or churches booking for a special event.

“We would have nothing to gain by disrupting these services,” Hermanus said.

Meanwhile, Daylin Mitchell, MEC of the new Western Cape Department of Mobility, congratulated the new board members and the Provincial Executive, and recognized the industry’s achievements.

He praised taxi drivers for making sure healthcare workers got to work during the Covid-19 pandemic, and for making sure commuters could still get around to help the economy.

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