south africa minibus taxi drivers strike turns deadly, violent protests in cape town
A strike by minibus taxi drivers in Cape Town, South Africa this week turned violent killing five people, including a British man after the vehicle he was in drove into the midst of a protest. The protests have been triggered by a dispute between minibus taxi drivers and city authorities.
Alan Richard Winde, the Premier of the Western Cape, expressed disappointment over the strike. He said the poor are suffering the most. “Each day that it drags on is a major setback to them. The impact has been devastating on them and our economy.” Winde believes residents should move freely in the province.
“It is crucial that residents are able to access critical services, such as healthcare, schooling and social development. The violence that has accompanied the strike and severe disruptions to daily life are an affront to the dignity and rights of our residents.”
The minibus taxi drivers are protesting over the new municipal traffic law in Cape Town that stipulates that vehicles will be impounded for violations, including unlicensed vehicles and drivers, passengers not wearing seatbelts or vehicles not being deemed roadworthy.
To highlight their voices, the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) declared a one-week strike which started on August 3. SANTACO said the new law unfairly targets taxi drivers and multiple vehicles have been wrongfully impounded.
But the peaceful protest turned violent in some areas when protesters threw stones at police and passing vehicles, obstructed the entrance to the Cape Town taxi rank and set fire to buildings. SANTACO condemned the violence and called for peace. Councilor Rob Quintas expressed dismay. “It is absolutely tragic that thousands of households cannot earn a living and are prevented from commuting to work, and even to school because of the sustained attacks on other public transport services across the city.”
He said there cannot be any discussion or negotiations as long as the violence and intimidation continues.