South Africa

COMMUTERS STRANDED

Thursday taxi protest over impoundment of vehicles causes blockades, disruptions and violence in Cape Town

Hundreds of protestors at the taxi associations CATA and CODETA march from Hanover Street to the Provincial Legislature on March 24, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. They are marching to the office of the Premier to present a set of grievances regarding impoundments of taxis, unfair requirements for the releasing of impounded vehicles and other issues affecting the taxi industry. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Roads were congested and Cape Town commuters were left stranded on Thursday morning as taxi protests caused disruptions in areas across the metro, with violent incidents including buses being torched. After morning rush hour, taxi associations marched to the provincial legislature to deliver a memorandum of grievances.

Traffic on some of Cape Town’s major roads was brought to a standstill and there were incidents of violence on Thursday morning as a result of a strike organised by the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta). 

The associations had been granted permission to march to the provincial legislature to hand over a memorandum of grievances including impoundment of taxis and unfair requirements for releasing them. 

Incidents of violence broke out across the city. 

As taxi drivers reportedly marched and drove in a large convoy along the N2 to Cape Town’s CBD, many commuters who rely on them were left to find other ways of getting to work and school.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi confirmed to GroundUp that buses and trucks had been stoned and torched by protesters on Thursday morning. 

Hundreds of Cata and Codeta protesters march from Hanover Street to the Western Cape legislature on Thursday, 24 March 2022 over impoundments of taxis and other grievances. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

“As the circumstances surrounding the public violence incidents are being investigated by detectives, arrests are yet to be made. Heightened security measures will be maintained until we are satisfied that stability has been restored,” Swartbooi told GroundUp.

Golden Arrow Bus Service said in an alert to commuters on its Facebook page: “Unfortunately it has been a rough morning across Cape Town. There have been incidents targeting our buses and as such please be aware that we may have to make diversions and other difficult safety-related decisions.

“At present our Nyanga passengers should please be aware that we are operating from Nyanga SAPS.”

At 10.43am, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said a large group of taxi drivers had entered Cape Town’s CBD after “earlier blockading the N2 at various points”. 

“The highway has been reopened at Spine Road, the R300 and Borcherds Quarry,” he said.

Smith said that while City officials were aware that the taxi associations had been granted permission to march, “the approved route was from Hanover Street to the Provincial Legislature in Wale Street”. 

Smith condemned the other incidents of disruption: “The disruptions to traffic caused by the group is unwarranted and cannot be condoned; neither can the reports of intimidation and attacks on vehicles in the Nyanga area.”

At 10.30am, hundreds of taxi operators marched through the CBD to the provincial legislature on Wale Street to hand over their memorandum which demanded, among other things, that the City and law enforcement stop impounding their taxis, which had a “negative impact” on their livelihood.

“Law Enforcement should refrain from stopping our Minibus Taxis in the morning whilst ferrying people to work and also when they come back in the afternoon during peak hour time. Please be informed that these commuters have to report for duty in time and come back home in time,” read the memorandum. 

At the legislature, the memorandum was handed over to and signed by the head of the Corporate Service Centre in the Department of the Premier, Andre Joemat. 

Taxi operators march from Hanover Street to the provincial legislature in Cape Town on Thursday to hand a memorandum to the office of the premier. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The City said it would be recovering the cost of damages to infrastructure and private property from the organisers of the protest. 

“The City will be recording the proceedings and any damage to infrastructure or private property will result in civil legal action against the march organisers, as has been the case in similar incidents in the past,” said Smith. 

“While the march was meant to highlight the taxi associations’ grievances, the intimidation and destruction that have accompanied their actions this morning is counterproductive and completely unnecessary,” he added.  

Last Friday, two Golden Arrow buses, two City of Cape Town vehicles and an Eskom vehicle were petrol-bombed in Nyanga and Philippi. Informal car taxi drivers, popularly known as amaphela, are accused of being behind the attacks as they were protesting against the impoundment of their cars by the traffic department. DM

Watch out for updates to this article later today.

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  • I assume that vehicles are only impounded if they do not have proper documentation or are in an unroadworthy condition. If taxi operators are not compliant, I cannot see what they have to complain about.

  • In my opinion it was naive to expect that this wouldn’t happen.A peaceful March is not how the taxi bosses operate.That was an eyeblind.Taxis play an important role but the organization s have too much power.I have come through 3 or 4 cata /codeta taxi wars.It is about money.They had the big 8 which became the big 10.10 guys that control the organization. All had fire arms.Taxis see themselves as above the law.Their is a lot of criminal activity in these organizations. I twice caught long distance taxis with stolen copper cable.The amount of illegal fire arms we confiscated from them is huge.They hire hit men to attack opposition.One hit man worked for Cata and for Codeta.They shot bus drivers .We arrested him and he escaped and we luckily caught him again.Although taxis play an important role they break rules and make commuters as well as workers using cars life he’ll on the N2 ,because they see themselves as above the law.If the infrastructure for trains is sorted out they will see a loss of customers.This will upset them as in the end the Big guys want their Money.

  • Listening to the spokesperson for these taxi drivers he avoided answering two simple questions, the vehicles are unroadworthy and others do not have operator’s licences. all he was whinging about was the cost to get their vehicles back/out of the pound. no wonder this country is a mess. they should all be jailed for placing the public and their passengers at risk as well as inconveniencing commuters. they have broken the law and this road blockade was probably within permission, again inconveniencing everyone but they do not have the guts to admit THEY ARE WRONG and MUST BE PUNISHED ACCORDINGLY!

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