Man shot dead during taxi strike


A man was shot dead near the Cape Town airport when a motorist apparently opened fire on a group of strikers who pelted his car with stones.

According to Brig. Novela Potelwa, police spokesperson, fired several shots at the motorist when strikers surrounded his vehicle and pelted it with stones.

“Three more people were injured in the incident,” says Potelwa. “A case of attempted murder is being investigated.”

The deceased has not yet been identified.

Rioting strikers blocked the road to the airport early on Monday and the police were deployed in large numbers in the airport area.

According to the airport’s management, the airport is open and operational at this stage. However, those heading there are encouraged to use alternative routes as the main road to the airport has been closed due to the unrest.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced on Sunday that the strike will continue on Monday and is expected to last until Wednesday. However, the council appealed to all taxi operators not to interfere with other public transport systems.

Several incidents of violence were reported in the Mother City this past weekend, with a depot in Delft hit with a petrol bomb. At least seven vehicles belonging to different government departments were also petrol bombed and badly damaged or completely destroyed. Three vehicles were set on fire in Makhaza.

Chaos still reigns on Monday morning

The City of Cape Town’s law enforcement services have already arrested 27 strikers this morning in connection with the blockade of the N2 highway. The police also arrested eight taxi drivers in Mfuleni on Monday morning.

JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety, confirmed that four Golden Arrow buses and four private vehicles were set on fire on Monday morning. So are two trucks at the city’s depot along Govan Mbeki Road.

A vehicle belonging to the metro was hijacked in the Samora Machel settlement.

According to Smith, a shooting was also reported at the Philippi train station and strikers pelted vehicles on Govan Mbeki and Duinefontein Road with stones.

“A total of 30 minibus taxis blocked the N2 entrance at Borcherds Quarry at around 05:30. When metro police officers tried to intervene, they were fired upon. No injuries were reported. Arrests were made shortly after the incident,” says Smith.

Police officers were sent to identified hotspots together with the City of Cape Town’s metro police, as well as other law enforcement officers and traffic services. Additional forces, including air support, are on their way to several areas where traffic jams and other incidents have been reported due to the ongoing strike.

Behavior ‘untenable, unacceptable’

Alan Winde, the Western Cape premier, on Monday morning expressed his concern about the devastating effects of the strike. He says the scale of violence is not only a serious blow to the economy and critical services, but has also delegitimized Santaco’s case and caused damage.

Winde is holding a special cabinet meeting this morning with key leaders of the city to determine what further steps can be taken against the strikers.

He once again appealed to taxi leaders associated with Santaco to make every effort to help curb the violence and urgently find a solution to the dispute.

“All sides, especially residents and commuters, are harmed by this strike. We now have to find common ground,” says Winde.

Ricardo Mackenzie, the Western Cape MEC for mobility, says that after urgent discussions that the provincial government and city held with the leadership of Santaco, no agreement has yet been reached.

“As the provincial government, we work extremely hard to resolve ongoing issues in the industry for the safety of commuters and road users,” says Mackenzie.

According to Winde, the situation is currently “untenable and unacceptable”.

“Our residents cannot be forced to endure this lawlessness. All parties must return to the negotiating table.”

Reagen Allen, MEC of Police Review and Community Safety, condemned the arson and damage to all property, especially security-related resources.

“Contingency plans have been put in place to ensure that the burning of law enforcement vehicles in Delft will have no operational impact on the deployment of LEAP officers in the area,” says Allen.

Impact on critical services


Due to the strike, 287,420 learners in the province could not come to school. More than 9,500 teachers and other staff members were also prevented from getting to work due to traffic jams and other disruptions.

The Western Cape Education Department’s #BackOnTrack program has also been affected. Classes were forcibly suspended last Saturday and affected around 14,000 learners.

Health and wellness

The strike and associated violence have badly affected health services. According to Winde, the effect that the safety and availability of transport has on staff will be reviewed on Monday to determine what effect it has on service delivery.

Many healthcare facilities have been forced to operate at reduced capacity, including the Tygerberg, Rooi Kruis and Groote Schuur hospitals.

“Elective operations have been postponed. Only emergency operations are performed and outpatients are advised to only keep their appointments if it is safe.”

Limited services are available at community health centers and clinics.

In medical emergencies, the access of ambulances to red zone areas is possible with the accompaniment of law enforcement officers. However, this may result in a delayed response. As reported earlier, an ambulance with patients was set on fire last week and the staff assaulted.

Forensic pathology services in Tygerberg and Soutrivier Hospital are continuing, but the response to scenes will be delayed in red zones, as this will also only take place under appropriate supervision.

Social development

Many staff from the Western Cape Department of Social Development will have to work from home due to the unpredictability of the situation. The department will also temporarily close its offices in the following areas:

  • Gugulethu
  • Long
  • Mitchells Plain
  • Nyanga
  • Delft
  • Khayelitsha
  • Philippi satellite
  • Atlantis
  • Elsies River

Regular updates on road closures are available on the City of Cape Town’s website. Commuters and road users are asked to remain vigilant on the roads.

The following roads were closed a short time ago:

  • R300 southbound at Bottelary Road
  • N2 income at R300
  • N2 inbound at Hindle Road
  • Intersection at Duinefontein Road and Govan Mbeki Road
  • Junction at Robert Sobukwe Road at Nooitgedacht and Bishop Lavis
  • Borcherds Quarry Road at Robert Sobukwe Road
  • Omuramba Road at Racecourse Road in Milnerton
  • Jakes Gerwel Drive from Highlands Drive in Mitchells Plain
  • Roads between Mitchells Plain and Heinzpark
  • Eisleben Road from Highlands Drive in Mitchells Plain