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Cape Town taxi strike – Looted malls and stores count the costs

Cape Town taxi strike – Looted malls and stores count the costs
A broken window of a Engen filing station after people tried to loot the shop in Khayelitsha on Day 5 of the minibus taxi strike in Cape Town.(Photo: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

For eight turbulent days, Cape Town was in the grip of a taxi strike that saw incidents of violence, including five deaths. Some areas reported opportunistic looting of malls and stores, which are now beginning to count the costs. 

Several shop owners in Cape Town were picking up the pieces at the weekend after looting during the eight-day taxi strike.

Five people have been arrested in Gugulethu in connection with the looting and more arrests are expected, police said.

Read more in Daily Maverick about the impact on schools: More than 70% of learners unable to get to school in one day during the strike

Videos have been circulating on social media of people fleeing with stolen goods such as TVs, refrigerators and other expensive items from stores.

The OK Furniture store, in Gugulethu Square, was one of the stores affected.

“People apparently believed there were TVs in the boxes in the store’s storage room when in fact there were bicycles inside the boxes,” store manager Vuyokazi Yedwa said.

Yedwa told Daily Maverick the furniture store’s storage room was later welded shut to prevent further looting during the strike. 

“We’re unable to calculate how much was looted from the store and storage area. We are waiting for a welding business to open the welded door,” she said. 

The looting was reported to Gugulethu police last Tuesday.

Five suspects arrested

Colonel Andre Traut, spokesman for the Western Cape SAPS, told Daily Maverick that looters made off with items such as household appliances, clothing and alcohol from stores in Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Kraaifontein. 

“Five suspects were arrested in Gugulethu for possessing suspected stolen property and are being detained until they are scheduled for a court appearance,” Traut said.

He said more arrests are expected as police continue their investigations. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: A great relief’ — Santaco calls off Western Cape taxi strike

As reported by GroundUp, criminals took advantage of the chaos caused by the taxi strike by hijacking cars, robbing stores and setting infrastructure alight. 

According to reports, several stores had to shut their doors in Kraaifontein after looting. In nearby Wallacedene informal settlement, meanwhile, most Somali-owned shops were robbed and burnt down.

Elderly queue for essentials

The Philippi Junction Mall, which has been being closed since Monday because of the looting, reopened to the public on Thursday. On Friday, there were long queues outside stores as people, many of them elderly, waited to buy essentials. 

“People are walking from far just to come buy essentials, with the potential to get robbed as the lines stretch to dangerous parts of the township,” Philippi resident Yola Schalk told Daily Maverick on Friday. 

“Yesterday morning the mall opened and I witnessed how essential foods like bread and milk were ridiculously highly priced. Food supply also decreased as many people were there to buy food; as a result, Shoprite closed earlier than usual,” Schalk said.

Ivo Lalone, who owns Malapih Furniture and Electrical Appliances in Site C Plaza, Khayelitsha, said although his store escaped the looting, his car wasn’t as lucky.

“My car was tragically vandalised; I don’t understand why individuals would choose to damage other’s properties in a demonstration that targets taxi drivers and not just anyone,” he said. “My store wasn’t robbed or broken into, fortunately.”

‘Profound sympathies’

At least five people were killed during the taxi strike, which started on Thursday, 3 August, after several taxis were impounded by law enforcement officials. In addition, several buses, trucks and private vehicles were torched and stoned.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) called off the strike on Thursday, 10 August, following successful negotiations with the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town.

“We stand with you in this time of grief and offer our profound sympathies. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who was negatively affected by the events of the past days,” Santaco chairperson Mandla Hermanus said on Thursday evening.

“We pledge our ongoing commitment to serve our communities with integrity, ensuring such incidents do not repeat in the future,” he said. DM

Additional reporting by Chuma Nontsele and Jim Mohlala

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Your reporting is wrong, the phrase “criminals took advantage of the chaos caused by the taxi strike by hijacking cars, robbing stores and setting infrastructure alight” should actually be written as “criminals caused chaos caused by hijacking cars, robbing stores and setting infrastructure alight and used the taxi strike as an excuse”.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    “We stand with you in this time of grief and offer our profound sympathies. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who was negatively affected by the events of the past days,” Santaco chairperson Mandla Hermanus said” What a bloody hypocrite.

  • Denise Smit says:

    My opinion is this is a try in the Western Cape of the July 2021 violence, destruction and deaths and havoc. The EFF/ANC RET faction is most probably responsible. It was done with the help of the Taxi industry strike because of supposed grievances. It was stopped because of the actions of the DA led City Council and loyal police and traffic officers. Thank you Gordon Hill Lewis and others for defending us. It is shocking to read that it went so far as looting and destruction throughout most of the Western Cape. Clearly organised but not thinking that there would be enough resistance. Denise Smit

  • David Pennington says:

    They always destroy their own facilities, interesting indeed

  • Dietmar Horn says:

    What is the cause of this lack of affect control and self-harm in large parts of the population? In my opinion, it can only be due to the fact that many people in this country have not internalized a civilized way of dealing with each other, respect for the life and property of others over generations.

    • Matthew Quinton says:

      “In large parts of the population”

      Political correctness prevents South Africa from honest introspection.

      Why is is that certain communities are so much poorer than others?
      Why do those same communities seem hell bent on destroying their OWN infrastructure, schools, medical facilities, transport systems and why do those SAME communities rush out and loot whenever the opportunity arises, burning a couple of things along the way for good measure?

      Why is it that certain communities of Cape Town have completely dismantled their own train lines, power systems and water systems? Why do certain neighbourhoods burn down regularly, then get re-built, then burn down again in EXACTLY the same way… with the SAME route required for fire department access blocked AGAIN.

      Why have the exact same communities attacked ambulances to such an extent that they no longer are able to be safely served in times of crisis.

      “People apparently believed there were TVs in the boxes in the store’s storage room when in fact there were bicycles inside the boxes,” store manager Vuyokazi Yedwa said.

      Surely bicycles would have been MORE useful to those communities than TV’s?

      Why was exclusive books not looted during the KZN riots?

      So many questions need to be answered before we can start to repair the gaping hole ripping into the soul of this once great nation.

      • Paddy Ross says:

        It is because there is a widespread loss of morality in a high percentage of those living in South Africa, particularly among the poorly educated. Morality, i.e. the difference between right and wrong, should be part of the Life Orientation curriculum at school.

        • Johann Olivier says:

          This is a bit of a curve ball, but how does your recommendation square with a criminal like Markus Jooste? Highly educated, with every privilege. The harm he did could probably be equated with the strike, sans the violence. This is less about knowing right from wrong, than about criminality & extreme poverty (the former often being bred by the latter.)

          • Manfred Hasewinkel says:

            Correct re Jooste. However, in my lifetime I have very often come across highly moral, extremely poor people. It’s really about where political leadership sets the norms.

    • Manfred Hasewinkel says:

      The experience of our Zeitgeist is markedly different in a township and the poor are prodded along by the NDR to suit a certain elite. Hitler was elected to power in a civilized nation and was supported by most of the elite in society, a fact. Dietmar, you should really know better than to question African civilization.

      • Dietmar Horn says:

        No one alive today can be held responsible for what went wrong in the past. In today’s world, however, we are all affected by what goes wrong anywhere in the world. Today’s South Africa, like many regions of the world, is the result of a globalization process that was already in full swing in the 17th century. Only if we learn from history and question our everyday thoughts and actions will humanity have a future, no matter where we are at home.

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    July 22 repeated but upgraded and applied in a different environment. Perpetuation of violence and undermining of the opposition, an early election ploy?

  • Geoff Coles says:

    These Malls are all in the black areas….as almost always.

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