Members of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) not only plunged Capetians into complete anarchy with their violent strike, but also kept nearly 300,000 learners away from school on Friday.
More than 9,500 teachers and other school staff were also prevented from getting to school by the numerous traffic jams and disruptions in the Mother City.
“Apart from minibus taxis not being available, the violence and chaos we saw overnight led to parents keeping children at home out of fear for their safety, even if they don’t normally travel by public transport,” says David Maynier, MEC for education in the Western Cape.
Learners, teachers and parents were left stranded on Thursday afternoon after Santaco suddenly decided to suspend its operations in Cape Town based on what they consider to be unfair discriminatory practices towards minibus taxis.
Santaco withdrew from discussions with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government last week.
“Even in the chaos and uncertainty about the strike, communities banded together to assist schools and learners,” says Maynier.
The residents of Mowbray made plans in the afternoon to provide food and a place to sleep for 11 learners from Hoërskool Thandokhulu who were left stranded.
Four learners from Silverlea Primary School and Garlandale High School, who live in Khayelitsha, were also unable to get to their homes. “Officials from the Western Cape Department of Education stepped in to arrange accommodation for them in a guest house, as well as meals and toiletries.”
At the Noluthando School for the Deaf, 16 learners could not travel home from Khayelitsha, so the school arranged for them to spend the night at a teacher’s house.
Wynberg High School for Girls also opened its dormitory on Thursday for learners and staff who could not get to their homes. A total of 15 learners and five security guards spent the night safely in the hostel.
However, Maynier says that the strikes nevertheless disrupted learners’ teaching, even into the weekend.
“Although schools remain open, extra classes held on Saturdays have been canceled due to the strike. This means that the 14,000 learners who receive the extra classes to improve their learning outcomes will not be able to attend because of the strike.”
Should the strike continue until next week and learners are intimidated on their way to school, the Western Cape government will not hesitate to approach the court for another interdict against Santaco.
“Our matrics are currently preparing for their record exams, therefore our learners simply cannot afford this kind of disruption to education.”
RNews earlier reported that several services were disrupted due to the strike. Many transport services and motorists have also come under violent attacks.