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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Cape Town taxi strike: 72 people arrested for public violence

Santaco has called on its members to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.

Police in Cape Town have confirmed the arrest of at least 72 people for public violence amid the taxi strike that has left at least two people dead.

South African Police Service (SAPS) deployments, led by deputy commissioner for policing lieutenant general Tebello Mosikili SAPS, also responded to incidents of looting at shopping malls in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Kraaifontein.

Western Cape taxi drivers have been protesting since Thursday over impoundments and alleged assaults by law enforcement officials.

According to Santaco, 6 000 taxis have been impounded since the beginning of the year.

Two people have died, while four buses and two municipal trucks were torched on Monday morning.

Taxi strike vs schools

According to the Western Cape department of education, the taxi strike prevented 456,020 pupils and 17,449 staff members from getting to school on Monday, with the Cape Town metro education districts being the worst affected.

“This is a significant increase from the 287,000 pupils and 9,500 staff members who were absent on Friday, and is a devastating loss of teaching and learning time that out children simply cannot afford,” said the department.

ALSO READ: We will not negotiate with ‘taxi thugs’ holding ‘gun to our heads’ – Cape Town mayor

27 schools had to be closed today due to the taxi strike.

No school has reported an incident of torching.

“We urge our school communities to report any harassment or intimidation of learners being transported to school, so that we can take the appropriate legal action. We will not tolerate anyone preventing our children from accessing their constitutional right to education,” said the department.

‘Rule of law not up for negotiation’

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said there would be no further discussions with the local Santaco leadership until the violence stops.

“The rule of law is not up for negotiation. We cannot negotiate which portions of the law will apply to some people and not to others. This is not the way we will ever build a successful society in South Africa. The law applies equally to everyone. We will apply the law without fear or favour,” said Hill-Lewis.

ALSO READ: We will not negotiate with ‘taxi thugs’ holding ‘gun to our heads’ – Cape Town mayor

“We are protecting residents and commuters by opening roads, running buses with escorts, and arresting those perpetrators of violence. Our first priority is protecting residents from violent taxi thugs.

“If Santaco does not choose to end their strike, then we will need to be prepared to stay the course. We are prepared to do so.”

‘We’re not lawless’

In a statement, Santaco said it was aggrieved by the “perception of the public” that its members were lawless.

“This perception is being fuelled by protestors and not members of our organisation,” said Santaco.

“We call on all members to conduct themselves in a peaceful and lawful manner and ensure that their drivers also adhere to the interim interdict granted on Monday,” it said.

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Cape Town protest taxi violence