Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Santaco wants to avoid sending taxi drivers into ‘lion’s den’ as Ramaphosa slams violent strike

Talks are ongoing between Santaco and governmen to end the week-long taxi strike in Cape Town.

It remains unclear on whether the ongoing taxi strike in Cape Town will end any time soon amid talks between government and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

The strike started last week Thursday over the impounding of taxis, resulting the torching of buses as well as road blocks that has affected schools and health services across Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town, Department of Transport and Santaco in the Western Cape have since been locked in negotiations on Wednesday to end the week-long taxi strike.

‘Lion’s den’

Speaking to the media at St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday, Santaco provincial chairperson Mandla Hermanus said he was unsure whether taxi operators will return to work on Thursday.

Hermanus said the drivers were suspecting that even more taxis would impounded.

“We have this threat that is hovering over our heads that when we go back to operations, 25 vehicles will be impounded for every bus or car that was stoned or damaged during the period of the stayaway. So we don’t want to send our operators into a lion’s den,” he said.

Furthermore, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has disputed claims made by Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga that the metro was using the wrong legislation to impound taxis.

Chikunga on Thursday publicly criticised the city for allegedly creating by-laws with no legal standing in order to target the taxi industry. 

The minister even claimed that city officials that she has dealt with were “arrogant” and expressed her disagreement with the labelling of taxi operators as “thugs”.

READ MORE: Cape Town taxi strike: Transport minister urges ‘arrogant’ officials to release impounded taxis

She called for the immediate release of taxi that have been impounded.

But Hill-Lewis has argued that city was taking action to protect commuters, residents, and the rule of law.

The mayor insisted that said the National Land Transport Act empowered authorities to impound vehicles.

“We took the provisions of that act, turned it into a by-law that applies to both private and public vehicles in our city. So it is an umbrella by-law that applies to all kinds of vehicles in our city,” he told reporters.

The city and Golden Arrow Bus Services have obtained an interdict against Santaco.

‘We must uphold the law’

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the taxi violence as it has disrupted the occasion of Women’s Day.

“This year, we were supposed to hold the national Women’s Day celebration in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.

“However, we had to move that event here to the Union Buildings because of violence associated with the taxi strike in the city,” he told the crowd on Wednesday.

The president said while the law permitted the right to strike and peacefully protest, the decision to resort to “violence and destruction” was unwarranted.

“We are appalled by the killings and assaults that have taken place. Blocked roads lead to blocked business, blocked education and blocked health services, which will have long-lasting effects on life in the city.

“We must uphold the law and we must solve problems through meaningful dialogue,” Ramaphosa said.

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