South Africa

TRANSPORT STRIFE

Brace for another day of Western Cape taxi strike after Santaco-government talks collapse

Brace for another day of Western Cape taxi strike after Santaco-government talks collapse
The Station Deck Taxi Rank during the strike in Cape Town, South Africa on 3 August 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Western Cape commuters have again been left in limbo as talks to halt the ongoing taxi strike could not deliver any good news on Sunday. This comes after a weekend of sporadic violence, including the murder of a law enforcement officer on Friday and the torching of more vehicles

Talks between the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the Western Cape Government (WCG) failed to resolve the taxi strike impasse on Sunday evening. 

This means the taxi stayaway continues until 9 August as planned. 

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility Roberto Quintas and Western Cape MEC of Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie met with Santaco Western Cape leadership on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.

At Friday’s meeting, the WCG said it put forward a proposal to alleviate the impact of vehicle impoundments on taxi operators, while it worked to resolve the complex challenges surrounding operating licences and other issues.

Santaco took this proposal to its members on Saturday for internal engagement. 

“At the latest meeting on Sunday afternoon, further progress was made with resolving the ongoing minibus taxi strike, until the suspension of negotiations in the early evening,” the WCG said.

“Both City and provincial governments are committed to further urgent engagement with Santaco leadership in the interest of resolving the current situation. All parties have reiterated the call for calm and for no further violence and that there should be no interference with other public transport operators,” it said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Taxi industry and City of Cape Town harden their stances amid strike violence and mayhem

Santaco said it went to the meeting in good faith and availed itself to engage robustly with government officials to seek a timely and amicable resolution to the ongoing stayaway. 

“While our intentions were to engage constructively and collaboratively, it is with profound disappointment that we must relay that the discussion was not as fruitful as anticipated. However, we remain resolute in our commitment to finding a resolution.” 

The union urged its members not to participate in any acts of violence or intimidation and condemned acts of public violence. 

Santaco wants its impounded minibus taxis to be returned without having to pay fines; a dedicated traffic lane like that of the MyCiTi bus to avoid taxis having to cross the yellow barrier line during peak hours; and a moratorium on the conditions applied to Operating Licences while Santaco returns to the Minibus Taxi Task Team.

The WCG was willing to compromise on the new traffic by-law and cease impoundments on “minor” infringements such as broken mirrors, but said it will continue to impound vehicles for “serious infringements”.

Mackenzie said: “Alongside the City of Cape Town, we put forward a proposal on Friday to alleviate the impact of impoundments on taxi operators, while we resolve the complex challenges around operating licences and other issues.

“Unfortunately, Santaco’s additional demands are not legally implementable and would require longer-term engagements with national government and other role players. At this point, we are left with very few options if Santaco will not return to the table and resume the joint work of our Minibus Taxi Task Team.”

Court interdict

Golden Arrow Bus Services, six of whose buses have been torched since the beginning of the Western Cape taxi strike, managed to get a court interdict on Sunday afternoon preventing Santaco members from intimidating, harassing, threatening or interfering with the bus service, its employees and passengers. 

“Santaco must take all reasonable steps to ensure that [Golden Arrow Bus Services] can operate without interference,” reads the order. 

Read more on Daily Maverick: Day 2 of Western Cape taxi strike begins with shot bus driver, burning tyres, fresh scramble to get to work

“[Golden Arrow Bus Services] has one primary objective and that is to provide safe and reliable transport to Cape Town’s commuters,” said Golden Arrow Bus Services general manager Derick Meyer.

“We, therefore, approached the high court as a result of the intimidation and harassment as well as acts of vandalism directed towards our employees, passengers and buses following the announcement of a taxi strike on Thursday.”

Golden Arrow Bus Services has stopped operating in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Philippi East, Langa and Mfuleni owing to the vandalism of buses and threats to drivers and passengers.

Violence continues

Acts of violence continued on Friday evening with law enforcement officer Zanikhaya Kwinana (33) being brutally killed after the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by 13 bullets in Nyanga. 

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Pojie said preliminary information reveals that Kwinana was a passenger in the back of a vehicle when an unknown gunman opened fire while they were travelling along Miller Road en route to Bishop Lavis. 

“They noticed that the deceased sustained gunshot wounds to the head and sped off to the Heideveld day hospital where the officer was declared deceased,” Pojie said. 

“Possibility that the attack is related to the ongoing taxi strike cannot be ruled out. However, the motive forms part of the ongoing investigation. The officers were part of members performing crime prevention patrols to quell taxi-related incidents that have unfolded in the province.” 

Police are investigating a case of murder and two attempted murders. 

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has authorised a reward of R250,000, the maximum payable, for information that can lead to a breakthrough in the murder.

Another person died in Mfuleni on Saturday when members of the community looted a delivery truck and pelted security guards with stones.

“Public Order Police [POP] responded to stabilise the situation later, after the body of a man and an injured woman who allegedly sustained gunshot wounds were discovered on the scene,” Pojie said.

“POP had to use stun grenades to disperse the riotous crowd.”

On Saturday, numerous incidents that appeared to be related to the ongoing taxi strike were reported. 

A City of Cape Town depot in Delft was petrol-bombed. At least seven vehicles belonging to different municipal departments, including enforcement vehicles, were damaged or completely destroyed. 

Three vehicles were torched in Makhaza and one in Strand. 

On the same day in Atlantis, City traffic officers responded to reports of public violence.

“On arrival, a taxi, seeing the enforcement vehicle, made a U-turn and sped off,” said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith. 

“The officers gave chase, assisted by the SAPS, and when the taxi was brought to a stop, officers found the vehicle loaded with tyres and arson implements. Six suspects were arrested on various charges.”

Smith said at least 110 criminal cases have been registered for incidents relating to the strike.

“While Santaco has attempted to distance itself from the criminal acts witnessed in the last four days, the organisation should have anticipated that calling for the strike would have resulted in this chaos – as is the case every single time – and they have to accept responsibility.” 

Impacting livelihoods

Yamkela Siko, a resident of Khayelitsha, said: “I work at a call centre, and it is difficult to get employment as a result of the strike. I think our firm should make sure that they provide the equipment to our homes so we can work from home.

“The terrible fact is that not everyone has Wi-Fi at home, which makes this strike particularly demanding for the many people it has impacted, including myself.

“Golden Arrow is really helpful to us; however, it is unfair that the taxis usually include government buses, which the majority of us take to get to and from work. My daily routine is being severely interrupted by the taxi drivers’ attacks on our reliable source of transportation.”  

Speaking to Daily Maverick, Mfuleni resident Noah Onismo said: “I’m a local plumber, and I only visit the city for purchases for supplies. My phone died while I was stranded in town for the first time. I had groceries to buy in addition to calling my family, who were waiting for me to return, but I was unable to do either.

“It was quite challenging for me to walk home. Now that [the violence] is breaking more regularly; the violence keeps me from working. It’s dangerous for a self-employed person like me because there have been shootings and attacks on cars and authorities,” he said. 

“The strike severely prevents me from finishing my work. It has severely impacted how I work to put food on the table.” DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steven D says:

    Do NOT compromise, Western Cape Government! The taxi drivers/owners/operators are thugs and this strike is proving it. It’s unbelievable that SANTACO has the gall to ask for a dedicated lane to “avoid taxis having to cross the yellow barrier line during peak hours”. How about this, SANTACO? Instruct/demand that your members to OBEY THE LAW and then we’ll talk!

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    After years of ignoring the law, being at the center of violence on a regular basis, intimidating and acting violently to any perceived or real competition, the taxi associations and taxi owners had this coming and they know it. For over 30 years they have ignored, belittled and contravened laws and suggestions, and there is enough evidence that it is more than likely that often they instigate violence when not getting their way. Apart from taxi staff themselves, law enforcement, e-hailing staff and commuters have been injured and killed by these criminals. I hope sincerely the City of Cape Town sticks to its guns, as there is no denying the criminal element that is festering in the taxi industry. Considering that these thugs are not even paying their fair share in taxes, do not feel like the laws of our society apply to them and have zero issues disrupting others livelihoods including using violence, the only sympathy I have is for the commuters stranded. Lets do our part and transport the people working for us to and from their homes privately. It’s worth the inconvenience to excise this criminal tumor that our taxi associations have become.

  • Helen Douglas Douglas says:

    Direct quotes from various govt people, Golden Arrow and affected commuters – nothing from Santaco? And no usual statement that DM tried to and didn’t get a comment. Would be good to hear what they have to say or that they have nothing to say, either way

  • johanw773 says:

    It is clear that cities and provincial governments are not capable of dealing with violent protests such as these, despite their statements to the contrary.
    It is hard to see where the solutions lie. What we see here is a massive tail wagging a small dog. The consequences are too massive to contemplate.

    • Loreen Webber says:

      So you think the strike and violence is happening because the city and provincial authorities can’t control the situation. Not that the taxi operators at fault.

  • bushtrack says:

    Taxi operators, everywhere in SA, are the most visible example of a total disregard for the law. This example of disregard of the law stimulate other crimes. When citizens see firm action by law enforcement it will make every criminal think twice resulting in a reduction of lawlessness.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    When is DM going to get journalists who can actually speak English. The English is this article is truly revolting with grammatical errors all over the place. Could we at least have journalists who do not make use of fancy phrases that they clearly do not understand ?

  • David McCormick says:

    Random shooting at people in vehicles and destroying an individuals’ property is not a strike. It is a riot. We know that the EFF support the riot. Silence from the ANC is telling. No Winners here. Without law and order, everyone loses.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Is it only a criminal element or more of a political involvement in the violent disrupting taxi strike in the Western Cape?. What about the meetings of Beke Cele and the EFF at the beginning of the strike? Pure coincidence? No Western Cape must become ungovernable. By any means for the sake of the ANC and the EFF. Denise Smit

  • André Pelser says:

    This is economic sabotage, the perpetrators should be arrested and jailed. The taxi bosses should also be held to account, they are accomplices and must be forced to recognise, and respect, the rule of law.
    The City of Cape Town application of their new by-law was injudicious, they should also shoulder blame for the situation. There is no denying that taxis re the most prevalent, and efficient means of public transport, but their propensity to resort to violence when confronted with competition is unacceptable. The customer pool is big enough for all the transport sector and trains and buses are essential options for cash strapped commuters.

    • Basil Skopelitis says:

      Sadly, this will never happen because the taxi bosses are in bed with the police and corrupt councillors. The taxi federations are nothing more than gangsters peddling death, and because we are subject to ANC lawless country they have no fear of law enforcement.

    • prifam1 says:

      The City resorted to impounding taxis because drivers simply ignore any other form of policing eg don’t pay fines because they say they can’t afford to Drivers even ignore instructions from officers to pull over. Eventually the City has to bite the bullet and resort to SOME form of sanction. Don’t believe it is coincidence trains are now withdrawn. Cele will know why no doubt. The ANC and EFF love any sign of ungovernability in the WC Meanwhile soft-headed objectors to the City’s desperate methods should think a little harder and not undermine the City’s efforts to apply long overdue policing because the state police are on the side of the taxi bosses and do nothing

      would love any

  • Rob vZ says:

    Taxi organisations are historically a mafia-style business. And their willingness to met out violence to disrupt the competition and government services is proved every time they “strike”. I have no idea what the solution is, and my heart goes out to the poor who are the victims every time this happens, but it’s time for the WC government and the national government to take the gloves off. Public transport cannot be left in the hands of organised crime.

  • Brian Doyle says:

    The Taxi industry must be regulated if this blackmailing, violence and thuggery is to be stopped, now and in the future. There must be strict rules that apply to the Taxi industry as applied to any business or industry

  • Jon Quirk says:

    The issue of taxis in South Africa being a law unto themselves, dates back to 1994 and the tacit agreement that this be a Zulu-owned and managed sector. This whole premise requires a radical overhaul, but the ANC government has neither the interest or necessary legitimacy to enforce it; think back to July 2021 when the same dynamics applied.

    We are ALL, including, JZ, JM, Santaco and all taxi operators and owners, Ministers, blue-light brigades et al, equal before the law.

    There can be NO “Animal Farm” exceptions.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    SANTACO has no intention of obeying the law. People’s lives are of no importance. This is no different to the violence instigated by the druglords and gangsters people have to live with every day.

    The WC government must just not give up. Let these thugs feel it in their pockets. In fact, public transport should be an absolute priority for the WC government to be available and as cheap as possible for the people who are always held ransom by these idiots
    Kill the whole industry!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    If theDA back down from this fight we might all as well pack for Perth!
    It’s imperative that the bylaw not be compromised.
    We’ve accepted the intimidation from Zuma who remains unpunished. We’ve accepted CR’s ridiculous explanation of the sofa! We’ve accepted that we will never hear what the Lady R delivered or loaded. We’ve accepted that SA is seen as a Russian stooge. We’ve accepted that the politically connected have and do still continue to rob the SA taxpayer. We’ve accepted that the ANC has trashed our SOE’s through corruption and inefficiencies. We must NOT accept that our laws are meaningless and certain members of society are allowed to break them. The Law and our Constitution is just about all we have left.

  • Vernon Roodt says:

    Where is Beki Cele?

  • David Pennington says:

    Splendid job chaps, oh, and thanks for this unexpected public holiday, keep up the good work.

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