Strike turns violent

Tyres were burned in the streets of Dunoon during the taxi strike on Monday.

Violence erupted in Dunoon as police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse rioters during a city-wide taxi strike.

The N7 south-bound was closed at Potsdam Road on Monday as rioters burnt tyres in the road and hurled stones at passing vehicles. Motorists were diverted by officials at the scene.

On Sunday, warnings went out on social media about the taxi strike and people were advised to use other transport.

The strike included members of the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA), Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and the Retreat Taxi Association. It is believed the strike was in response to taxis being impounded, new taxi laws and the upcoming South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) elections.

Table View police spokeswoman Captain Adriana Chandler said traffic officers, City law enforcement and SAPS were deployed to the N7 to calm the protest.

“The road was cordoned off to secure the safety of commuters. The community were setting tyres alight, but no property was damaged, people injured, or arrests made in this vicinity,” said Captain Chandler.

Pictures and videos capturing the strike’s citywide mayhem flooded social media on Monday morning, including images of helpless commuters, bloodied victims of bus stonings and burning Golden Arrow and MyCiTi buses. A video also circulated on the internet of protesters along the N7 trying to knock a man off his motorbike as he drove past.

The strike was called off at midday on Monday following a meeting with Transport MEC Donald Grant.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, condemned the violence.

“Three traffic vehicles were stoned in the violence. No staff were injured, but unfortunately some commuters were wounded.”

“The City’s traffic service and Metro police are tasked with enforcement operations and take action against taxi drivers who operate on routes not designated to them or without the necessary documentation/operating licences.

“Like most other cities, Cape Town has a large taxi industry and our finite resources are stretched to capacity in trying to ensure equity and compliance with the law in all areas of the city.

“We are committed to working with other agencies in areas where there is a potential for conflict and will work closely with the Western Cape government, the SAPS and role-players,” said Mr Smith.

Four MyCiTi stations – Phoenix, Dunoon, Usasaza, Circle East and Killarney – were closed during the strike but have since been reopened.

Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said some taxi drivers had threatened MyCiTi bus drivers in several areas including Dunoon.

“Striking taxi drivers also instructed the MyCiTi personnel at the Woodbridge station in Milnerton to close the station and threatened to ‘come back later and check on them’,” said Mr Herron.

He said the T01 trunk route service between Dunoon, Table View, the Civic Centre and the V&A Waterfront was also affected during the morning peak hour after protesters stopped MyCiTi buses leaving the depot in Dunoon.

“It seems that the attacks on our public transport services have been planned in advance and that some of the taxi drivers went out on strike with the sole intention to target our commuters, personnel, buses and infrastructure,” he said.