Cape Town taxi violence: ‘I don’t want to talk with JP Smith, the guy needs serious psychological help’, says Bheki Cele

Bust shot of a man speaking into a microphone

Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith. File Picture: Jason Boud

Published Aug 4, 2023


Police Minister Bheki Cele has lambasted City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith amid a crippling taxi strike and violence which has left thousands of commuters stranded.

Speaking to journalists during his tour of Riverlea in Joburg, Cele said he has been working with different stakeholders to resolve the problems engulfing the transport sector in Cape Town, and the violence.

“I read somewhere that JP Smith said Cele encouraged the taxi industry to go on strike. I do not want to talk with JP Smith, I think the guy needs serious psychological help. He needs serious psychological help,” said Cele who was accompanied by several SAPS management.

Cele said he was in Cape Town, and he came back to Gauteng on Thursday night.

Commuters in Cape Town struggling to get into buses, as masses stranded at the Golden Arrow bus terminus. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

“I sat with him (JP Smith) on the stage, I raised the matter with the (Western Cape) MEC to say we need to resolve the thing. I have taken the responsibility of talking to the MEC there, I spoke to the minister of transport and the minister of Cogta,” Cele said.

“As we talk now, the minister of transport has just landed in Cape Town and is trying to speak to all that are responsible. We are trying to resolve that matter despite the violence.

“Two buses were burnt yesterday when this thing was announced. My pain and hurt goes to the people of Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha where those trying to help those that are going work, school are assaulted and their cars are stopped and destroyed,” he said.

Cele said government is calling on the people behind the strike to “allow people to live their lives”.

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, Western Cape MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety in the Western Cape, Regan Allen and the national commissioner of SAPS, General Fannie Masemola attending an event in Cape Town on Wednesday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA)

The minister said the problem in Cape Town is between the city and the taxi associations.

“The major problem for us is that as it (the violence) happens, you move the police from crime prevention and move them to a situation that can be easily resolved,” he said.

Earlier, IOL reported that while the City of Cape Town claimed it was not declaring war against the taxi industry, JP Smith has proclaimed that they will “proceed with impounding 25 vehicles for every truck, bus, vehicle or facility that is burnt or vandalised”.

The city is also seeking an urgent interdict amid mayhem and violence that erupted shortly after the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the Western Cape announced their stay-away.

Thousands of commuters across the province were affected when Santaco, joined by eight regional associations, met in Makhaza, Khayelitsha and resolved to down tools over issues, including the impoundments of vehicles.

People stood in long queues at bus stops and terminals, with some stranded commuters, including pupils, telling the Cape Times they remained at the ranks because they were fearful to use buses as some were attacked. Other commuters opted to walk home.

Integrated law enforcers were deployed on the freeways and major routes amid the attacks.