Big business has expressed serious concern about the escalation of violence with scenes similar to the July 2021 unrest in the dispute between the Western Cape government and taxi associations after the impounding of taxis for various transgressions.
This comes as the Western Cape High Court granted an urgent interdict to the City of Cape Town against the violent strike allegedly by members of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).
The strike crippled the transport industry and left two people dead, scores injured and many public and private vehicles torched, with incidents of looting and damage to property.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said today that although they were not privy to the details of the dispute, they did note that negotiations were to resolve the situation were continuing.
Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said they were concerned about the escalation in violence and the impact the taxi strike was having on supply chains and business activity.
Coovadia appealed to taxi organisations and taxi operators to desist from violence and not intimidate commuters who want to use other forms of transport to go about their business.
“We are concerned that employees were unable to travel to work. We are also concerned about the impact on food security because transport of goods is affected by the violence and criminal activity, which includes incidents of looting,” Coovadia said.
“This must be of sincere concern to government at all levels and we urge both the Western Cape government and government at national level to bolster law and order presence in volatile areas and ensure strong action is taken against people using this set of circumstances for criminal activity. We must guard against a repetition of the insurrection that occurred in July 2021.”
Santaco and its affiliate associations embarked on a wildcat strike last Thursday after the City of Cape Town intensified impounding taxis for road traffic infringements.
The City of Cape Town began enforcing a new amended traffic by-law of 2019 that gives them the power to impound vehicles on the spot for a range of offences towards the end of July, sharply increasing the number of impounded vehicles from weeks before.
Transport Minister Sindi Cikunga said the municipality has been using the wrong laws to impound taxis and ordered it to release 6 000 taxis that had been impounded using these laws.
“We call on the City of Cape Town to respect and uphold national laws as they currently stand. To this end, we call on the city to return to the negotiating table, address the areas of disagreement and demonstrate a genuine effort to find a lasting solution to the current challenges,” Chikunga said.
“We call on the City to immediately release without any conditions all vehicles impounded based on the National Road Traffic Act and leave those that are impounded on the basis of the National Land Transport Act of 2009.
“We have the National Land Transport Act and the issue of impounding minibus taxis is actually found in that legislation. It is in section 87 of the National Land Transport Act and that act specifies when you can impound a minibus taxi.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) also said it was concerned about the impact of the taxi strike on the retail sector.
CGCSA CEO Zinhle Tyikwe said while it was too early to provide the financial impact of the strike to its members, the lack of reliable transport and accompanying violence that has characterised the strike was unfortunate.
“We are closely monitoring the situation particularly on its potential impact on food security because the longer the strike continues, the more difficult it will be for consumers to replenish their food stocks due to lack of transport,” Tyikwe said.
“The retail sector is key to the provision of basic food commodities and ensuring food security and we are concerned that violence that accompanies strikes similar to what we have witnessed in Cape Town always has a major impact on the operations of our members.”