Cape Town taxi violence: ‘We are precisely doing our jobs’ - says JP Smith

A man holding a microphone holding a microphone

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith. File Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Published Aug 7, 2023


City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith says “political opportunists” are adding fire to the crippling taxi strike and violence which rocked the coastal city, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

On Monday morning, IOL reported that one death has been confirmed by police as the taxi violence across Cape Town continues to escalate.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the incident occurred near the Cape Town International Airport where assailants were pelting motorists with stones.

A motorist allegedly fired shots at assailants who were pelting cars with stones. One person died, and three other people sustained injuries.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Smith said there are unfortunate attempts by organisations like the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to personalise the issue around him, and turn it into a political saga.

Commuters struggling to get into the bus, amid a taxi strike in Cape Town. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

“There are political opportunists along this process who are trying to turn this into a political matter, precisely like Cosatu. We expect little other comment like that from Cosatu as it is the kind of line they take with every altercation, with every conflict that arises. They attempt to personalise it and turn it into a political matter,” said Smith.

“The truth is we are doing precisely our jobs. There is a piece of legislation called the National Transportation Act which says we have to take the lives of people on our roads and in public transport seriously. That we have to enforce the law and when rules are broken, we have to act. We are doing it diligently. We are doing exactly what the law says,” he said.

Cosatu in the Western Cape has accused Smith of “weaponising taxi regulations” in the City of Cape Town against taxi operators.

Smith said he does not comprehend how the law enforcement can provoke acts of murder, vandalism, thuggery, arson, disruption and destruction of infrastructure.

He said the laws being enforced in Cape Town are not the city’s by-laws, but national laws.

“I am becoming distraught at the continuous repeating of this narrative of a by-law because it is not honest. It is an attempt at distorting the narrative and distorting what is happening here and it is purposeful,” said Smith.

Last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele lambasted Smith, as the taxi strike continued to flare up characterised by violent clashes.

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.