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Violent taxi protest brings Cape Town morning traffic to a standstill

Taxi drivers gather in Cape Town before a planned march on March 24 2022.
Taxi drivers gather in Cape Town before a planned march on March 24 2022.
Image: Esa Alexander

Buses and trucks bore the brunt of a violent Cape Town taxi protest on Thursday morning.

Western Cape police spokesperson W/O Joseph Swartbooi said trucks and buses had fallen victim to the protest.

Around 9.30am, Swartbooi said taxis were driving in a convoy on the N2 towards the CBD.

“A bus was damaged at the Nyanga bus terminus as a result of stone-throwing this morning,” he said. “The windows of the bus were broken but the driver was not injured. Another bus was set alight.

“According to reports, taxis affiliated to two associations are driving in convoy on the N2 highway to Cape Town. Three trucks and a Quantum were set alight and one bus was stoned in Bloekombos in Kraaifontein.”

Swartbooi said police and other law enforcement agencies were monitoring protesters, who later planned to march to the provincial legislature in the Cape Town city centre.

Councillor JP Smith, responsible for safety and security, said a large group of taxi drivers had entered the CBD after “earlier blockading the N2 at various points”.

“The highway has been reopened at Spine Road, the R300 and Borcherd’s Quarry,” he said.

“Enforcement services have now turned their attention to managing roads in and around the CBD, which could have an impact on traffic heading into town.

“While we are aware that approval for a march was granted to taxi associations Cata [Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association] and Codeta [Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association], the approved route was from Hanover Street to the provincial legislature in Wale Street.”

Smith said the disruptions were uncalled for.

“The disruptions to traffic caused by the group is unwarranted and cannot be condoned, neither can the reports of intimidation and attacks on vehicles in the Nyanga area.

“Our services are still working to paint a complete picture of the damages caused this morning and we will communicate on these once complete.”

Western Cape transport MEC Daylin Mitchell said he understood the protesters planned to hand over a memorandum of grievances and demands.

“The leadership of the taxi industry made commitments that this would be a peaceful protest and that it would not disrupt the operations of other public transport providers. This commitment has not been honoured by elements within the industry,” he said.

“I have been informed that other public transport providers are considering suspending their operations to protect property, assets and the lives of staff and commuters.

“This will have a severe impact on people travelling to and from work, school and to access services such as healthcare.”

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said: “This violence and disruption impacts our most vulnerable communities. We cannot accept these violent acts and I call on the SAPS to ensure that law is upheld and that our residents are kept safe. All those responsible for this violence must be arrested and prosecuted.

“I know that these senseless acts are being perpetrated by a particular grouping inside the industry, supported by opportunistic criminals.

“I will use all regulatory and legislative mechanisms to deal with this issue which include suspending or even withdrawing operating licences and holding associations accountable for the actions. I will not stand by and allow a handful of opportunists to hold the commuters of this province hostage.”

TimesLIVE

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