The Western Cape government, led by Premier Alan Winde, is facing a major crisis as the strike called by the South African National Taxi Council in the Western Cape (SANTACO-WC) continues to wreak havoc on critical services. The strike, marked by violence and property damage, has left the government appalled and struggling to mitigate the devastating impact on education, health and wellness, and social development.
Premier Alan Winde expressed his deep concern over the scale of violence that has dealt a severe blow to the province’s economy and disrupted essential services. In addition to the economic toll, the strike has delegitimized and damaged SANTACO-WC’s cause, raising serious questions about the approach taken by the striking taxi leaders.
In response to the ongoing crisis, Premier Winde has called for all taxi leaders affiliated with SANTACO-WC to intensify efforts to de-escalate the violence and urgently seek a resolution to the dispute. He emphasized the need to find common ground to protect the interests of residents and commuters who have been severely affected by the strike.
Western Cape Minister of Mobility, Ricardo Mackenzie, shared the Premier’s concern and highlighted the devastating consequences the strike has had on provincial government and municipal services. He reiterated the government’s commitment to resolving industry issues and establishing new terms of engagement to ensure the safety of commuters and road-users.
Education has been among the hardest-hit sectors during the strike, with 287,420 learners unable to attend school across the province since the stay-away was called. More than 9,000 teachers and staff have also been prevented from going to work, severely disrupting the learning process for thousands of students. The impact on the Western Cape Education Department’s #BackOnTrack program has also been significant, leading to the cancellation of classes for 14,000 learners.
Health and wellness services have also suffered immensely, as the safety and availability of transport directly impact staff and service provision. Many healthcare facilities, including Tygerberg, Red Cross, and Groote Schuur Hospitals, have had to postpone elective surgeries and only conduct emergency surgeries. Outpatient services are available but with limited capacity. Access to red zone areas for Emergency Medical Services has been possible only with a law enforcement escort, leading to potential delays in response times.
The strike has even disrupted the Western Cape Department of Social Development’s operations, forcing many staff members to work from home due to the volatile situation. Several offices have been temporarily closed in areas like Gugulethu, Langa, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Delft, Khayelitsha, and others.
Minister for Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, strongly condemned the burning and damage to property, especially safety-related resources. To ensure operational continuity, contingency plans have been put in place to safeguard the deployment of Law Enforcement Advancement (LEAP) Officers in the affected areas.
Minister Mackenzie emphasized the government’s efforts to end the strike and restore minibus taxi services. Proposals were put forward jointly with the City of Cape Town to address impoundment issues and other challenges faced by taxi operators. However, SANTACO-WC’s additional demands have posed legal challenges and would require longer-term engagements with national government and other stakeholders.
As the strike continues to inflict widespread damage and disrupt essential services, the Western Cape government remains committed to finding a swift resolution to the dispute. Premier Winde will hold a special Cabinet meeting with key leadership from the City of Cape Town to assess the situation and determine further steps to be taken. All parties involved are urged to return to the negotiating table to find a resolution and put an end to this untenable situation.