South Africa’s police minister Bheki Cele has called for calm in Cape Town following the taxi industry strike, saying, “Allow people to live their lives and the associations with the government of the Western Cape must resolve the matter.”
The police minister described the strike as quite violent during a press conference in Johannesburg on Friday.
Thousands of commuters were stuck on Thursday as the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) declared an urgent strike.
The group stated that this was due to a disagreement with the municipality over cabs being detained for violating traffic laws. Cele suggested that the taxi organization and the government meet to resolve the standoff.
“The transport minister landed in Cape Town and is trying to speak to those involved. We are trying to resolve that matter. It is quite violent.
“My heart is for the people of Langa, Gugulethu, and Khayelitsha, where those trying to help, going to work and school, they are assaulted and cars are stopped and destroyed,” Cele said.
[WATCH] Police Minister Bheki Cele says he read somewhere that Cape Town Safety and Security MMC JP Smith said he encouraged the taxi industry in the Western Cape to go on strike. "I think the guy needs serious psychological help."#Newzroom405 #TaxiStrike pic.twitter.com/D2YDzonOmg
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) August 4, 2023
After the strike was announced, four buses, three trucks, three panel vans, and an ambulance were petrol bombed, according to the City of Cape Town.
MMC safety and security JP Smith stated that the city would assist authorities in gathering evidence and tracking down the perpetrators and arsonists behind the attacks.
“The city and partners invite Santaco to return to talks after their withdrawal last week, but importantly, public violence and intimidation must cease immediately. There can be no fruitful discussion or negotiation until the violence and intimidation stop.
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest, violence, and intimidation have no place in Cape Town. Commuter safety is our priority.
“We will continue to work with the South African Police Service to uphold the rule of law and hold those guilty of public violence accountable,” Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said.
While on Newzroom Africa, Santaco’s Mandla Hermanus said, “We condemn violence and urge our members to desist from participating in [an] activity that might be deemed to be criminal. We urge law enforcement to follow up on anyone who might be involved in criminality.”