Statement from ANC Alliance (ANC, COSATU, SACP and SANCO) Western Cape following the joint press conference: Addressing the Public Transport Crisis and Violent Incidents

The ongoing public transport crisis has caused significant distress to our citizens and communities in the City of Cape Town, and recently in Mbekweni, Paarl. This has been compounded by the unfortunate and opportunistic incidents of violence that have unfolded in full view of all on the City’s public roads.

The African National Congress (ANC), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Communist Party (SACP), and South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) in the province conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families that lost their loved ones amid this ongoing taxi unrest. We also extend our wishes for a speedy recovery to those who are healing at home or in medical facilities due to injuries sustained during the unrest.

What we have witnessed over the past six days is indicative of the deep-seated challenges facing our people who are reliant on public transport, specifically the taxi industry as a means of economic participation and inclusion.

It has also brought to the fore the structural challenges of the taxi industry that continue to be ignored particularly by the City of Cape Town and its provincial department of Transport, now known as Mobility.  

These include the regulatory inefficiencies that have been exploited and abused by the DA trigger-happy Councillor, Jean Pierre Smith and its Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, through the “City of Cape Town Traffic By-law 2021”. Wholesale impoundments of taxi vehicles in the City to a tune of 6000 taxis to date have been unleashed. This has triggered the taxi strike that was declared by the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) on Thursday 3 August 2023 leaving droves of people without transport, plunged into more than 10km walks from the CBD to get home, including learners left unsafe without scholar transport.

If anything, we believe this should be a matter of grave concern to a City that prides itself, to “work for its citizens”, to a provincial government whose Premeir Alan Winde claims is “citizens obsessed”.  

The Mayor cannot objectively continue to turn a blind eye to the repeated incidents of instability in the city and its communities caused by his Mayoral Committee Member, Councillor JP Smith’s dogmatic and volatile approach to municipal law-making and enforcement. The most vulnerable and indigent communities of Cape Town continue to bear the brunt and are afflicted the most as we have witnessed in the past few days.

Regrettably, this ongoing unrest has wrought havoc upon our communities, affecting not only working-class individuals and businesses but also schoolchildren and those relying on health facilities.

In the strongest terms, we condemn the violence and senseless property destruction that has marred the strike and the knock-on disruptive effect this has had on economic activity more broadly.

We are all aware and have witnessed the DA’s open undermining of national government, through its call for “devolution of powers”, a down-played version of a “federal state” – their historical stance. This is a twisted but masqueraded call for “Cape Independence” of the extremists and conservatives that the current DA has found affinity to the likes of Freedom Front+.  It is apparent as to why they are hellbent on the fight for “devolution of transport powers” as we saw how they have abused, misused and distorted the national legislation in their poorly written by-law.  

The National Road Traffic Act in Section 80A provides for “Power of local authority to make by-laws” and states in subsection (1) that “Subject to the provisions of any law in relation to the procedure to be followed in the making, approval and promulgation of any by-law by a local authority, any local authority may, with the concurrence of the Premier concerned, make by-laws not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act or the laws of the province”.  It is exactly this part that has locked the national Minister of Transport, Sindi Chikunga from last week Friday, and again this Monday till today in conversation with the SANTACO leadership joined by MEC Ricardo MacKenzie of the provincial department of Mobility at the SANTACO offices in Bellville, and after that driving to meet Premeir Alan Winde at his offices in town. It must be placed on record, that the “CITY OF CAPE TOWN IS MISSING IN ACTION” and deliberately refusing to be part of these negotiations towards a solution.

The DA cannot absolve itself from the responsibility and consequences of its exploitative actions and draconian use of By-Laws at the hands of JP Smith to harass, manhandle and cause physical damage to some of the vehicles as shown in video clips taken last Wednesday during their raid at the CBD taxi rank.  This has reverberated across the transport sector more broadly, evidence by e-hailing drivers showing their solidarity with their taxi industry peers based on similar victimisation, targeting and unjust administrative procedures by the City.

We unequivocally denounce this conduct by the DA, which has acted as a catalyst for the ongoing unrest within the Western Cape taxi sector.

We demand an immediate cessation of the strike and an end to all violence.

The ANC and its alliance partners stand in solidarity with civil society’s initiative for an immediate end to the strike and the return of unlawfully impounded vehicles.

We further implore our members to actively support the efforts of community police forums, street committees, and neighbourhood watches in collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure community safety.

Given the rate of the violent nature of the strike and the possible infiltration by criminal elements, the taxi industry risk alienation. The SANTACO leaders must prevail and ensure that the reputation and image of this black-owned industry is not further damaged.

We call on SANTACO to isolate and expose any thuggish elements within its ranks who engaged in vigilante activities that led to the killing of innocent people and destruction of property. Such elements must be handed over to law enforcement agencies for arrest and prosecution.

It was the ANC leadership and its alliance partners within the Western Cape, who initiated discussions with the Minister of Transport to intervene in this ongoing unrest. We commend the Minister for her intervention and welcome her directive to the City of Cape Town to release all impounded taxis. But more needs to be done.

The City of Cape Town has refused to engage on this matter and has remained irrational and stubborn in its actions against the taxi industry which has only harmed our people. The Mayor and JP Smith have stubbornly ignored the pleas of our people and refused to stand down in the interests of all people and the safe access to public transport as critical to their economic emancipation.

It is their actions and approach which have seen this matter starting to harm the broader economy of our city and province, including job, businesses, livelihoods and access to essential and social services. The poor and the indigent of our province feel the effects of this mostly, but all of its citizens are affected and feel the fears caused by the DA’s inability to govern securely.

This is a clear and orchestrated plot by the DA to sow instability within our communities, which must be resisted. We urge our working-class communities not to succumb to the acts of incitement by JP Smith and the DA led by the Mayor. The Mayor has failed our people and betrayed their trust. Who is really calling the shots in the governance of the City and provinces? It seems JP Smith is untouchable. He must be removed from his position.

In these challenging times, we appeal for calm in our communities. Businesses must not punish workers who do not go to work as a result of the strike.

Furthermore,  our structures will engage from tomorrow onwards in peace initiatives, leading dialogues to restore serenity within our communities.

Our commitment to collaborating with the taxi industry extends beyond the present strike, as we seek to arrive at a peaceful resolution to this crisis. The taxi sector forms an integral part of our province’s economy, and we are dedicated to facilitating its safe and efficient operation.

We support and echo the Minister’s call for the City of Cape Town to promptly release unlawfully impounded vehicles and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the taxi industry.

As the ANC Alliance we call on the following ACTIONS:

•     Support the call made by civil-society organisations and leaders for a “Moratorium on the Taxi Impoundments” till all legality, and technical issues of administering this by-law are amicably resolved between three spheres including the relevant stakeholders;

•     Open public-participation to review this by-law, and allow everyone especially the commuters to input, and motorists towards a more acceptable version by all;

•     Call on SAPS and other Law enforcement agencies to heighten visibility, including its crime intelligence to curb the on-going criminality affecting poor communities and public property;

•     SANTACO must actively cooperate with SAPS and other law enforcement agencies to identify, and bring to book rogue elements and criminals causing havoc and strain to communities during this period of the taxi strike;

•     Call on restraint by the City of Cape Town to use combative communication that fuels tensions than driving a reconciliatory message for peace and stability;

The ANC will mobilise its branches in affected areas and across the city in support of these interventions.

We remain resolute in our commitment to peace, dialogue, and social justice.

Through constructive engagement, we believe that the grievances of the taxi industry and the broader community can be addressed, leading to a more just and sustainable future for all.

We also welcome the fact that the provincial ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) joined our press conference. They spoke sharply to the devastating impact of the strike on women. These issues were covered in their media release earlier today.

Issued by:

ANC Provincial Secretary Neville Delport

COSATU Provincial Secretary Malvern De Bruyn

SACP Provincial Secretary Benson Ngqentsu

SANCO Provincial Secretary Bheki Hadebe


ANC Provincial Spokesperson

Muhammad Khalid Sayed

076 151 5265

COSATU Provincial Secretary

Malvern De Bruyn

060 977 9027

SACP Provincial Spokesperson

Disang Mocumi

072 677 5940

SANCO Provincial Spokesperson

Buntu Gwija

081 457 7862