The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Western Cape has learnt with great sadness, the death of a Law Enforcement Officer in Cape Town on Friday night as a result of the ongoing taxi strike in the City. The Officer, who was in the municipal vehicle along with other colleagues unfortunately succumbed to injuries after the vehicle they were in was ambushed by gunmen.
We have also learnt that several commuters have been caught in the cross fire, resulting in recorded injuries. Further to this, on Sunday morning, reports were received that the City’s depos being petrol bombed overnight, thus escalating the violence and destruction of property which is supposed to serve residents of the City.
The Union sends its heartfelt condolences to the Law Enforcement Officer’s family, friends and colleagues. We further wish speedy recovery to residents that have suffered injuries as a result of the Friday night shootings. We call on the authorities to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the criminals who have robbed a family of a breadwinner while also inflicting injuries on innocent commuters.
Although the Union sympathises with the plight faced by taxi operators in the City of Cape Town and the province in general, we however do not condone acts of violence which have now resulted in catastrophic and irreversible consequences. Seemingly this violence is now escalating, when all this is done, residents of the City will be the ones that suffer the most.
SAMWU calls on the City and the taxi industry to engage meaningfully to resolve the concerns which have been raised by taxi operators. The failure by both parties to resolved these concerns and reach an agreement has unfortunately resulted in death, injuries, destruction of property, while also affecting businesses and government operations as workers are unable to get to and from work.
SAMWU, as a social movement, will always be found to be standing with communities and community run businesses. This strike has affected the ability for many commuters who rely on taxis as their mode of transport to report for their duties, thus affecting the economy of the City which is driven by these workers. We however reiterate that violence targeted at commuters and workers will not solve the challenges which have been raised by taxi operators in the City.
As SAMWU, we condemn the decision by the City of Cape Town to put Law Enforcement Officers in the frontlines without equipping them with the necessary tools. Of great concern, the City has failed to address salary disparities for these workers, yet they are being used as a shield between taxi operators and municipal management.
Importantly, the City has resorted to leave the negotiation table with stakeholders and opted to pit workers against taxi operators. Knowingly, the City has created animosity between Law Enforcement Officers and taxi operators. These are community members who live side by side, but have now become enemies as a result of the City’s failure to meaningfully engage with affected taxi operators. Many of these workers have now become targets for criminals who know where they and their families reside.
As the union we condemn the municipality’s action for exposing our members in the Safety Directorate by taking away transport they had from all previous administrations. We call on the Mayor to do the right in this regard. These members who are on the frontline and exposed will again be expected to take taxis to work due to the withdrawal of municipal provided vehicles.
We once more condemn the killing of innocent workers as they, like any worker are just trying to earn a living and put bread on the table for their families, just like workers even in the taxi industry. The workers in the frontline are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, and aunts to their loved ones.
As SAMWU we also urge all parties including the municipality to approach this current situation without the arrogance which they have displayed as this only fuels the tensions between the City and taxi operators. The Union seeks to see normality returned in the City so that workers who drive the City’s economy are able to go to work without fear of being a victim of the violence seen in Cape Town.
We lastly reiterate our call that all the parties in the dispute should engage in good faith to find a common ground to the current impasse as it affects mostly the poor, schools, workers, businesses and the health and safety of our members in the municipality who are not party to the dispute.
In calling for calm and resolution to the current impasse, we reiterate that those responsible for the death and injuries inflicted on workers should be held accountable for their actions. In supporting the taxi industry, we cannot support violence which has robbed a family of a breadwinner.
We once more convey our sincere condolences to the family of the murdered Officer. We wish the family strength during this difficult time. We trust that authorities will bring to book the criminals who took the life of an innocent worker.
Issued by SAMWU Western Cape
John Mcanjana, Provincial Secretary, (064 628 000), Jonathan Krakri, Provincial Secretary, (083 559 2427) or Nathi Gagayi, Provincial Organiser, (072 4478 091).