Golden Arrow buses have been vandalised and one has been set alight in Delft. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA

Cape Town - Cosatu has slammed the City of Cape Town over the taxi strike that left thousands of commuters stranded and caused chaos on the streets of Cape Town on Monday.

But the City said it "is doing everything possible to ensure that we protect and support the general public and motorists and commuters on our public roads". 

Before the strike was reportedly called off, two buses were torched, cars and buses stoned and commuters attacked.

The strike action included members of the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta), Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and the Retreat Taxi Association and is believed to be due to taxi impoundments, new taxi laws and the upcoming provincial South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) elections.

Police spokesman FC van Wyk said one bus was set alight in Delft where firefighters and traffic officers came under attack.

The City of Cape Town reported that one of its MyCiti buses was set alight on the N2 near the R300 turnoff. The road was closed, but the City reported that N2 outbound was reopened just before midday, while the R300 had been opened in both directions.

Members of the public order policing unit were deployed to Du Noon, near Milnerton where buses and police officers came under attack, said van Wyk.

“Members took action using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd.”

Protestors also burned tyres along the N1 highway at Joostenberg Vlakte and Bloekombos.

“It was removed by SAPS members roads are opened,” said van Wyk.

SAPS were also deployed along the N2 at the Borchards Quarry turnoff near Nyanga where buses were also stoned.

At Fisantekraal, traffic and police officers were stoned on the Potsdam and Wellington roads.

In a statement on Monday Cosatu slammed MEC Donald Grant and Councillor Brett Herron over their response time to the strike.

"The desperate state of public transport is leading to deaths and the injuries of workers, trying to get to work, from areas they were dumped in under apartheid. The authorities have no regard to the amount of money workers lose, due to arriving late and work and having to fund alternative transport, and the hardships they have to endure in the bad public transport system," Cosatu said in a statement.

"The taxi crisis has been brewing for a while with very little proactive intervention by the provincial government. Even when the taxi industry announces a strike the MEC Grant does not try to avoid the strike, with an intervention but only meets with them after the first day of the strike. The focus should be to avoid the strike and the disruption to the economy, but this idiot Grant does not understand the implications," they added. 

Cosatu also took a jab at Metrorail as they accused the train service of "reckless endangerment" due to the overselling of tickets, resulting in overcrowded trains.

"The City has allowed this situation to come about, due to not upgrading and increasing roads in working class communities and cars have increased."

Cosatu said that an urgent transport plan "is needed". This would entail more buses and taxis on the roads and special roads for these modes of transport throughout Cape Town.

"Politicians like Councillor Herron and MEC Grant are complete idiots when it comes to responding to the needs of working people. Both seem to have no regard for working people as they pander to those in the wealthy areas all the time."

On Monday City’s Mayco member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith, said their officers had stepped up to assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) to quell violence across the city during the protest.

"Our officers, who play a supporting role to the SAPS, came under attack along with buses, commuters and other road users.

"Metro Police, Traffic Services and Law Enforcement officers were deployed around the city to assist with managing traffic and restoring law and order. Three traffic vehicles were stoned in the violence. No staff were injured, but unfortunately some commuters were wounded. This violent behaviour and blatant aggression against innocent residents will not be tolerated.
 
‘The City is doing everything possible to ensure that we protect and support the general public and motorists and commuters on our public roads. During a state of public disorder or public violence, the SAPS is in charge of coordinating and commanding the situation. Operational control then vests with them. All available City enforcement and emergency staff have been deployed to respond to the public violence and all standby staff have been called up," said Smith

He said that the following roads were still affected (all other roads reopened): the N2 incoming diverted onto Spine Road – closed at the R300; and the N7 south-bound closed at Potsdam road. 

"Officers will continue to monitor these areas to ensure the safety of all road users."