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Two people killed in two incidents near airport as Western Cape taxi strike continues

Two people killed in two incidents near airport as Western Cape taxi strike continues
The N2 inbound and the N2 outbound closed due to the taxi strike. | Taxi drivers being arrested. | One person killed. | An ambulance at the scene of the shooting. (Photos: Supplied)

On Day 5 of the Western Cape-wide taxi strike, two people were killed during morning traffic near Cape Town International Airport. Mass disruptions were reported, with thousands of children unable to get to school and stranded commuters worried about losing income from a lack of work.

Police have confirmed the death of two people in two separate incidents on Monday morning near Cape Town International Airport following altercations between motorists and protesters on the fifth day of the strike. 

The South African Police Service (SAPS) in the province has confirmed the deployment of police to various parts of Cape Town, as taxi drivers continue their protest. Early in the morning, minibus taxis blocked Airport Approach, a key road leading to the airport.

One person was shot and three others injured when protesting taxi operators pelted stones at motorists on the road leading to the airport off the N2.  “The driver responded to the attack by firing several shots. As a result, a death and three injuries were recorded,” said SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Novella Potelwa.  No further details were available.

Daily Maverick has received unconfirmed reports that both the person who was killed as well as the three others injured are members of the taxi industry.

In the second incident, close to the N2,  a motorist travelling with passengers had his car pelted with stones. Shots were also fired at the motorist, according to Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi.

“Nyanga police responded to a complaint earlier this morning, Monday, 7 August 2023. Upon their arrival in Borcherds Quarry, close to the N2 highway, they found the body of a 28-year-old male who sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was declared deceased on the scene by the medical personnel. The unknown suspects fled the scene and are yet to be arrested.”

Cases of murder and attempted murder were being investigated. The motive for the attacks is believed to be taxi related.

Four people have died since the strike started last Thursday, including a law enforcement officer who was killed in Nyanga on Friday night. 

Monday marked day five of the province-wide taxi strike over issues such as what associations claim is the unfair impoundment of their vehicles. Talks between the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the government failed on Sunday, which means the strike, which started last week, will continue this week. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Day 4: Brace for another day of Western Cape taxi strike after Santaco-government talks collapse

While Santaco has denounced the chaos and violence, its operators were seen stopping private vehicles and chasing out the drivers on the N2 just before Nyanga. 

The strike started on Thursday, 3 August following a meeting in Khayelitsha between all taxi associations in the Western Cape. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Chaos, arson and threats of legal action after Cape taxi drivers begin strike 

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

By Friday morning commuters were finding other transport to work. However, several bus services had to be paused in several areas over bus burnings and commuter safety concerns. 

Criminal cases opened 

On Monday, more confirmed and unverified reports came in over road closures all over Cape Town. 

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: “The City can confirm that there have been numerous incidents of unrest related to the taxi strike again this morning… our staff are on the ground, working with SAPS to address the violence.” 

Cape taxi strike Day 5

The N2 inbound and the N2 outbound closed due to taxi strike. (Photo: Supplied)

Smith said the City was working to resolve numerous road closures to ensure safe passage for commuters. “Currently, Omuramba Road is closed between Computer and Racecourse roads due to protesting, and the N2 and R300 have also been affected by the unrest.” 

Smith said a list of recorded incidents and related damages were being compiled as well as criminal cases opened and arrests made. 

‘No work, no pay’ 

Masilo Bhova, a resident of Parow in the northern suburbs, told Daily Maverick they were left with no alternative but to walk to work in Tyger Valley. “I use a Golden Arrow and I have been here all morning, at least around 6.20 and till now (8.30),’ said Bhova. 

“This taxi incident has interrupted my day schedule. It affects me because I work a job with no work and no pay,” he said, adding: “I just want a transport that will be able to get me to Bellville, I can take a risk and walk. I fear for my position at work. This strike is now out of hand.

“Unfortunately, some of our schools are being forced to close early, either due to protest activity in the community or because of fake news causing parents to panic.” 

Update at 1.45pm 

The City of Cape Town has confirmed the following actions across the city: 

  • Protest action in Philippi, with between 150 and 300 protesters on-site and one vehicle alight;
  • Vehicle alight at Lansdowne and Stock roads;
  • Four vehicles alight at Mew Way and Japhta K Masemola Road;
  • Protest action at Govan Mbeki and Duinefontein roads (about 150 protesters on-site);
  • Shots fired at Metro Police Nyala on the N2 off-ramp to Borcherds Quarry;
  • Protest in Hout Bay, outside the local SAPS, with protesters burning tyres and stoning vehicles;
  • Law Enforcement staff under fire at Nyanga Terminus;
  • Law Enforcement staff attacked in Kraaifontein; and
  • Private vehicle set alight at Govan Mbeki Road and Emms Drive in Nyanga.

Protests reach Atlantis and Witsand 

Witsand taxi association spokesperson Asam Sbata confirmed that one of the two people killed during this morning’s blockade near Cape Town International Airport was the chairperson of Cata Witsand.

Witsand is a neighborhood near Atlantis.

“He was attending a meeting,” Sbata told Daily Maverick.

Both Atlantis and Witsand are reasonably calm, with police patrolling the areas.

According to Christy Prins of the Blaauwberg Taxi Association, which represents the broader Atlantis area, its members in conjunction with the police are looking for a fully loaded taxi that is roaming the area, stopping cars carrying more than two people and pulling them out.

They were also looking into allegations that a taxi driver, who was taking his daughter to school, was stopped and he was forced out of the vehicle, whipped with sjamboks and told to turn around.

The strike has also affected charters transporting workers to factories in Atlantis, Montague Gardens, Killarney, Bay of Eden restaurants, Duynefontein, Pathcare workers at Blaauwberg Hospital and workers and security staff at Pick n Pay in Table View.

One of the charter transport owners, Julia Adams, said: “More than 2,000 workers are affected. Initially, charter drivers wanted to continue driving, but after constant threatening messages and voice recordings, we decided to cancel transporting workers from home to work and back.

“My passengers are far more valuable to me than my van being on the road. Everyone’s thinking is not the same. Some drivers are putting workers at risk in order to get to work,” she said.

The strike is expected to last until 9 August, with normal taxi operations set to resume on the 10th. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the Women’s Day address this week from Khayelitsha, where much of the taxi-related violence has occurred. DM

This is a developing story.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bosman Puren says:

    Absolutely unacceptable. Why pelt motorists cars? You any idea the ripple effect of your actions? Idiotic and extremely narrow minded. Why is chaos the first impulse when you dont get your way in SA? Terrible!

    • Steve Davidson says:

      For sure. It has to be treated as attempted murder.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      As much as I hate to say it, this comment is pointless as it is their precise goal. Break, burn, disrupt, even kill.

      This is what happens when a criminal enterprise is threatened.

      We can only be strong. They need income too so this is certainly not easy for them.

      Taxi drivers: maybe a more constructive approach for everyone, including you, would be to simply tell taxi owners that only roadworthy vehicles are allowed?! Damn, it’s just so easy when you actually stop to think about it.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    There are only three words to describe this shambles: Viva, ANC, Viva!

  • Campbell Tyler says:

    SANTACO is vocal that the violence is not of their doing. Then how about helping to quell it by having taxi drivers escorting Golden Arrow and Myciti buses to protect them and manning bus stops and keeping criminal elements at bay?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    We must all do whatever we can to help the city.

    – Pay staff.
    – Try and agree catchup days with staff to mitigate negative impact.
    – Be understanding of the challenges staff face.

    • Daniel de Villiers says:

      I agree! Let us not allow such violence and unrest to affect the innocent people affected by this.

    • Rob vZ says:

      It may be the only way to bring the taxi mafia to heel. Employers pay their staff to stay at home. This is a test of economic wills. Can the WC afford to be violently blackmailed? As for the airport, surely that is a national key point? Arrest the lot of them – it’s insurrection.

      • Lisa nel says:

        Good idea. ‘If’ the rule of law prevails, this is precisely what should happen. Otherwise the taxi mafias might as well be added to our expanding ‘Blacklist.’

    • Nils Heckscher says:

      totally agree

  • Steve Stevens says:

    If only the people could turn the tables and boycott the taxis for a couple of weeks.

    • Johan Buys says:

      Steve : the numbers don’t work. ¾ of workers rely on minibus commute. Because myCiti and trains and buses are inadequate. If the ratios were even slightly more balanced, a commuter action program would work. With our numbers, no chance.

      Weeks before this chaos MyCiti cancelled CBD:Airport buses, leaving citizens to chance bricks on way to airport. Not sure why, but maybe the city thought their buses were not going to be safe.

      • Chris 123 says:

        MyCiTi bus depots and infrastructure was destroyed by taxi sponsored thugs to prevent them servicing the black community. Same with the trains burnt to stop them offering cheaper trips. Funny how they ran so well before the ANC came along.

  • Terence Dowdall says:

    Perhaps impounded taxis could be used by law enforcement drivers to start services again. Will the taxi bosses burn their own impounded vehicles put to good use?

  • Trenton Carr says:

    Scum of the earth, no one should give in to these thugs, fix the real public transport, and consign these criminals to history to be forgotten.

  • Nils Heckscher says:

    It looks like it has to get worse to get better. As was said, the city cannot back down on matters of upholding the law as this will further open the floodgates of blackmail. They will have to stand firm and we can only hope that sense will eventually prevail and that the law abiding taxi owners and drivers, who have to be in the majority, will take over and take their seat at the negotiazing table again in good faith!

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Very glad to see the mayor’s statement about not giving into these thugs. You never know, we might look back in a few months’ (or years) and see this as a major positive turning point for the country, not just the Cape. When those people who voted ANC in the past might finally come to realise that the crap they’ve been fed about the DA was just a pack of racist lies and they actually do know how to govern, despite having to deal with so much nonsense caused by the crooked idiots in that party. I can dream, can’t I?!

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    It’s time to separate the “Taxi Mafia” from the taxi drivers.

    The drivers are powerless and are trying to make a living.

    Perhaps it’s time to Nationalise the Taxi Industry – let’s see how the Taxi Monopoly Capitalists enjoy that!

    • Steve Davidson says:

      Surely by impounding the taxis, that’s what they’re doing. And sorry, but I can’t fathom a bleeding attitude for ‘drivers’ if they (a) don’t have valid licences and/or (b) drive like maniacs.

  • Samantha Vandersteen says:

    Reading this gave me flashbacks to the Durban riots. Where is SANDF? People are being murdered in the streets! Just like in Durban, Cyril will only deploy them when the worst of it is already over!

  • Jennifer D says:

    There have been multiple calls for employers to pay employees whilst they are unable to get to work. That is exactly what one should not do. Paying your employees to not work and stay at home means yet again the “people” are treated as though they have no will and are unable to make an impact on the taxi drivers – of course they can – by making it difficult for the masses to get to work and by NOT paying them, we are forcing them to take responsibility and to consider if they want to support these taxi drivers who put their lives at risk every day and then try to control the country by firing at taxis. The people need to come to the party – they are the ones that need to feel the pain and make the change. For too long we have treated them as a responsibility – why is that? They are thinking active people and can start being accountable for the choices they make. By continuously accommodating them we are making everything the problem of business owners – yet again. At a point, there will be no businesses left if we carry on like this – and then we sit in Zimbabwe.

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