Talks between the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town ended in another deadlock on Thursday afternoon, with an announcement that a taxi strike would extend beyond the initially planned seven days.
In a brief response to journalists, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said there was “nothing final on the table”.
Winde said a reasonable offer had been made to Santaco but details could not be disclosed as it was under consideration by the taxi council’s leadership.
Santaco is seeking legal advice to apply for an urgent interdict for the release of all its impounded vehicles and to prevent the City of Cape Town and the department of mobility from impounding further taxis “until matters have been resolved”.
On 3 August, Santaco said its members would embark on a seven-day strike to protest what it described as the unfair impoundment of minibus taxis under the city’s traffic by-laws.
Over the past year, the city has impounded 6 245 minibus taxis, nearly 500 of which are stationed at its Maitland pound. An adjacent field is under construction to increase its holding capacity.
Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga on Tuesday called for the immediate release of all taxis that have been impounded for operating without a licence in the city as she claimed the traffic by-laws are in contravention of the national law.
But the city dismissed the minister’s claims as “misinformation”. It said all taxis had been impounded for offences under the National Land Transport Act.
“Rather than ‘defining itself outside of national laws’ as claimed by the minister, Cape Town will continue to stand out as an example of a city actually implementing the national laws of the land. We will never compromise commuter safety by turning a blind eye to offences on our roads,” Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said in a statement.
Winde and members of the city and the province’s mobility and transport teams met with Santaco and Chikunga on Wednesday evening.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian after the meeting, Winde said the decision to extend the strike was troubling but he was relieved that violence had subsided over the past three days.
As of Wednesday, there had been 198 criminal cases registered at the South African Police Service relating to the taxi strike. These include charges of murder, attempted murder and arson, as well as malicious damage to property and assault, according to live updates by the city.
Sporadic incidents of unrest were recorded on Thursday and all major routes remained open.