Bus set alight in Cape Town taxi strike

Violence continued overnight during Cape Town’s taxi strike when a bus was set alight and cars were stoned, the city’s traffic department said on Tuesday.

The bus driver was injured and admitted to hospital, said spokesperson Kylie Hatton.

Protests turned violent in Mfuleni and Nyanga on Monday morning and 15 people were arrested in Mfuleni for public violence where a Golden Arrow bus was stoned.

Taxi commuters were left stranded in Cape Town on Monday morning when South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) members embarked on a strike to protest against the red tape and “sloppiness” around the issuing of operating licences by the provincial government, and to protest against “draconian” traffic laws.

Santaco secretary general Philip Taaibosch also said authorities regularly impounded taxis without good reason.

“If he is a taxi operator, they just impound his vehicle,” he said.

Tool of protection
However, the City of Cape Town and the provincial government said in a joint statement: “Santaco’s call for a moratorium on impoundments is short-sighted and not legally possible.

“Impoundments are the primary tool to protect taxi commuters and other road-users from the threat of taxi violence over route invasions. Law enforcement must be applied equally and special dispensation cannot be made for those who threaten disruption and violence.”

Taaibosch said the strike would continue until the Western Cape provincial government addressed key complaints from the taxi industry.

He added that more than 120 taxis had been impounded, and some were at risk of being repossessed because owners were unable to pay instalments.

A meeting was scheduled with Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele for midday on Tuesday in an attempt to reach an agreement.

Minister vows to resolve strike
Meanwhile, the minister vowed to ensure the taxi dispute was resolved as soon as possible.

“As the national department of transport, we have been engaging with the ministry of police as well as Santaco and we will do everything towards ensuring that the current taxi dispute in the Western Cape is resolved amicably as soon as possible,” Ndebele said in a statement issued on Monday.

“The choice of movement is also a fundamental right. Therefore, the right of citizens to reliable and safe public transport cannot be compromised.
The commuter is the most important person and mutual respect is of paramount importance,” he said.

Warrant Officer November Filander said on Monday one person was arrested on a charge of public violence in Nyanga.

“The police did fire some rubber bullets in Nyanga. There are no reports of any injuries,” said Filander.

“There was sporadic stone throwing at vehicles.”

He said there were no taxis running on the main routes in Cape Town.

City and Cosatu condemn violence
The City of Cape Town and the provincial government condemned the violence.

“The City of Cape Town and the provincial government of the Western Cape strongly condemn the violence and intimidation associated with the Santaco strike,” Hatton said in a statement.

“While the City and provincial government respect the right of the industry to protest, any acts of violence or intimidation will not be tolerated,” Hatton said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also condemned the violence.

“The taxi bosses have a right to protest, but they must direct the protest at the government who is the cause of the problem, so taxis must go and block the city centre, not prejudice commuters, who can do nothing to solve their problems,” said Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) expressed concern about the effect of the strike on “poor working class people”.

“We are aware as the SACP in the Cape Metro that most children are brutally affected as their transport was stoned in areas such as Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, etc. In any struggle waged by any structure, we cannot afford education to be affected,” said SACP district secretary Benson Ngqentsu.—Sapa

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