Cape Town – The Western Cape Government (WCG) has strongly condemned the acts of violence as the taxi industry enters the second day of its shutdown on Tuesday.
On Monday, chaos ensued across Cape Town as vehicles were stoned, buses torched and hijacked, and innocent people were injured.
Last week, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said the taxi industry in the province would be embarking on a two-day away.
This is as the taxi industry in the province demands a review of the City of Cape Town by-laws under which taxis are impounded, funding for the expansion of the Blue Dot project and the commitment of the WCG to support formalisation efforts by the taxi industry.
In a joint statement, the WCG said the acts by the taxi industry are unacceptable and a flagrant disregard of the rights of innocent commuters and citizens after benefiting from a significant pilot investment in the taxi industry.
“The WCG respects the rights of the minibus taxi industry to shutdown, but criminal acts and wanton violence are unacceptable, and the WCG will pursue all options to deal with this behaviour.
“The WCG ran the Blue Dot pilot programme with the mini-bus industry to demonstrate that formalisation and improved driver behaviour is possible at a significant cost of R215 million for 800 mini-bus taxis in the pilot. It was a success and a game-changer for the industry.
“In the face of collapsing public transport system, the WCG has shown through the Blue Dot pilot programme how it is possible to change the mini-bus taxi industry.
“The WCG has taken the results of this pilot programme to the national government so that it can be rolled out nationally with national funding,” it said.
The WCG further stated it had repeatedly met with the taxi industry at the beginning of November and communicated the pilot programme will be winding down.
It said this was also widely reported in the media.
Western Cape MEC for mobility Daylin Mitchell said the actions of the taxi industry on Monday had a severe impact on people travelling to and from work, school children who are writing exams and those who tried to access healthcare services.
“We cannot afford this while our economy is only starting to show recovery from two very tough years. These senseless acts are putting jobs at risk. They are putting lives at risk.
“I will use all regulatory and legislative mechanisms to deal with this issue which includes suspending or even withdrawing operating licences and holding associations accountable for the actions.
“I will not stand by and allow a handful of opportunists to hold the commuters of this province hostage. I have said it before, and I maintain that illegal and criminal acts will not be tolerated,” Mitchell said.
Western Cape MEC of police oversight and community safety Reagan Allen has called on all law enforcement entities to arrest any person that embarks on criminal activities during the protest by taxi operators.
“Every person has the right to protest, but this should be done in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. Law-abiding citizens are being denied the opportunity to get to their important engagements or appointments.
“This is unacceptable. Intimidation and the destruction of property will not be tolerated. Not only should those who are involved in these illegal activities be arrested, but civil claims should be instituted against them.
“The tendency to cause destruction when there are protests will only end if those guilty of these offences feel it in their pockets and with time behind bars. I’ve been informed that all law enforcement entities are deployed at various hotspots,” Allen said.
He said 120 officers attached to the Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (Leap) had been deployed.
Leap officers have also been deployed to MyCiTi and Golden Arrow buses.
“I call on those with genuine concerns and grievances to sit around the table and discuss matters so that viable and realistic solutions can be found,” Allen added.