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Western Cape taxi strike Day 6 – Ramaphosa’s Women’s Day address shifts to Pretoria from ‘high-risk’ Cape Town

Western Cape taxi strike Day 6 – Ramaphosa’s Women’s Day address shifts to Pretoria from ‘high-risk’ Cape Town
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Cape Town City Hall on 27 February 2019. Owing to security fears linked to the Western Caspe taxi strike, he will no longer deliver the National Women’s Day address at Khayelitsha Rugby Stadium. (Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim)

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech at a Women’s Day event in the 'high-risk area' of Khayelitsha has become a casualty of the taxi strike in the Western Cape. This was announced on Day 6 of the protest action, which kicked off on Tuesday less explosive than previous days but with widespread reports of mass work stayaways.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will no longer deliver the National Women’s Day address at Khayelitsha Rugby Stadium amid the ongoing taxi strike. 

“This change has been necessitated by the ongoing taxi strike in Cape Town, where Khayelitsha has been deemed a high security risk area,” confirmed Zimasa Velaphi from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. The event will now take place on the Union Buildings South Lawns. 

The strike, which started last week, is expected to end on Women’s Day (9 August). Normal taxi operations are scheduled to resume on Thursday, 10 August. 

On Day six of the strike,  roads around Cape Town were quieter than previous days with the violence from Monday leading to a mass stay-away from work and businesses not operating. Areas that are usually bustling were ghost towns in the morning.

One of the major hotspots of the Western Cape taxi strike, Nyanga, was also quiet on Monday morning, with only one car driving by every now and then.

Residents were fearful, however, that this might be “the calm before the storm”. A Somalian shop owner who goes by the pseudonym Musa said, “I’ll keep the gate closed until there’s an update of what is to happen from now on”.

Cayla Murray, the DA’s Western Cape spokesperson on finance, economic opportunities and tourism, said the provincial Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety had confirmed that law enforcement had cleared the approach road to Cape Town International Airport, despite attempts to block access, and that violent protest action was de-escalated overnight.

The provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism had said the airport remained fully operational, “albeit with some slight delays and staff shortages”.

Additionally, joint efforts by the Western Cape government, City of Cape Town and the police had resulted in:

  • 120 arrests and 162 criminal cases laid;
  • Golden Arrow services continue despite seven buses torched; and
  • 1,500 additional deployed members from SAPS, POPs, Law Enforcement and Metro Police at hotspots including Mfuleni, Nyanga and Mitchells Plain.

Murray said that, as of 7 August, 456,020 pupils and 17,449 staff had been prevented from getting to school, with the Cape Town metro education districts the worst affected.

There had also been an increase in workplace absenteeism, with Business Day reporting on 7 August 2023 that the stayaway had resulted in more than 50% absenteeism in key sectors of the economy.

The first few days of the strike have been marked by violence, including bus burnings, commuter disruptions and severe road closures. On Monday, two people were killed in separate incidents in Nyanga and on Airport Approach following incidents of violence by individuals linked to the taxi industry. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Two people killed in two incidents near airport as Western Cape taxi strike continues

Security agencies are monitoring Cape Town’s roads. The City of Cape Town confirmed major routes were free-flowing. By 8.55am there were protests in Masiphumelele in the city’s deep south, which prevented residents from leaving for work. 

“Traffic Services, Metro Police and Law Enforcement dispatched additional support from the Metro Police Tactical Response Unit with hardened vehicles,” said JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security. 

Stone-throwing incidents had been recorded in Dunoon, but the instigators fled when officials were dispatched. Escorts had been arranged for metro emergency services ambulances into volatile areas. 

taxi strike

The Cape Town taxi rank, known as the deck, remains empty as the taxi strike continues on 7 August 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

taxi strike

A deserted Duinefontein Road at Nyanga Junction amid the taxi strike on 7 August 2023. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Late on Monday evening, the City of Cape Town was granted an interdict which prohibited any person or vehicle from blocking Cape Town’s roads with the intention of harming or delaying passengers using other modes of transport. In addition, members of the taxi industry are also prohibited from coming within 100m of a transport depot. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Judge grants City of Cape Town urgent interdict against taxi council to ‘stop this madness’

On Tuesday, Golden Arrow confirmed it was running a “severely” limited service. Several buses had been burnt over the past few days. “Passengers are therefore requested to make other travel arrangements, work from home or share this information with employers, schools, etc. We are so sorry that the intimidation and interference with our services over the last few days has made it impossible for the service you rely on to assist you at this time,” read a message from the bus service. 

Several MyCiTi routes that were disrupted have been returned to service, although at 8am the routes to Khayelitsha and Century City were still suspended. MyCiTi was running a limited service to Mitchells Plain.

Negotiations update

Negotiations between the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the City continued until the evening, with no amicable solution reached on Monday. Both MEC for Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie and Santaco spokesperson Nceba Enge confirmed to Daily Maverick that discussions would continue on Tuesday morning and that they were hoping a resolution would be reached soon. DM

Additional Reporting by Chuma Nontsele

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    The response box remains empty – an indication of what law abiding taxpaying citizens feel about our President and his lack of leadership, courage and impartiality! No comment!

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