Skip to content



The Western Cape taxi strike that started on Thursday 3 August, marred by violence and intimidation, is having a widespread, devastating impact across the city, as access to food, vital healthcare services, and education are cut off in several parts of the city.

Thousands of commuters can’t get in or out of their communities and are therefore not able to get to work. Clinics were forced to close, leaving patients stranded, while more than 450,000 learners and 17,500 teachers were unable to get to school. Early childhood development centres in certain hotspots were also closed as a precaution. With learners unable to get to school, access to the vital school nutrition programme is also cut off, which thousands of vulnerable children rely on as their only source of food for the day.

Several businesses have been looted, while others had to close their doors, either as a precaution, or because they were unable to trade since their staff could not pitch for work. Many people are reportedly staying at work, for fear of intimidation, and to ensure that they do not lose out on their income. So far 10 Golden Arrow Bus Service busses have been torched, along with cars and trucks that were targeted by violent mobs.

According to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) 2020 Household Survey, taxi operators transport over 15 million commuters every day across South Africa. With an ailing rail network in Cape Town, there is little doubt that hundreds of thousands of commuters use taxis to get them to work.

The taxi strike could also inadvertently further increase food prices, when considering that food value chain representatives will either need to hire in additional staff, possibly lose production capacity, and the resultant increase in business interruptions and supply chain disruptions throughout our food system will be felt broadly.

Judge Patrick Gamble characterised the violence and looting as “madness” when he granted the City of Cape Town an interdict against the taxi council and its affiliates late on Monday evening, prohibiting “any person or vehicle from unreasonably blocking Cape Town’s roads with the intention of harming or delaying passengers using other modes of transport.”

FoodForward SA, a national hunger relief organisation that provides food to 540 beneficiary organisations across the Western Cape, report that their services were severely interrupted, as they were unable to deliver food to vulnerable communities, nor were their beneficiary organisations able to come and collect their monthly food provisions at their Cape Town facility, which they desperately need to prepare meals for those who are most vulnerable.

A leader of one of FoodForward SA’s beneficiary organisations, who asked not to be named said “I fear for my life and my vehicle, and therefore I am not able to leave my area, even though I know that my community will suffer because I can’t prepare meals.“

Other beneficiary organisation representatives have reported that since schools are closed and people can’t get to work to earn a daily income, which they rely on to buy bread and other basic foods, they are relying on us to provide them with a meal.” We can’t keep up with the demand.”

While taxi representatives have not relented on their demands, and the City of Cape Town has not acceded to them, the show of force on both sides has exposed yet another vulnerability of our ailing economy post the pandemic, and eroding some of the hard fought gains in recent times, including business and investor confidence.

Meanwhile, hunger and food insecurity are rising, and opportunistic looting and limiting people’s freedom and access to movement has not gained taxi bosses any sympathy for their cause from commuters nor the general public.

People are angry, frustrated, and they want things to return to normal, because the carnage is unbearable, unnecessary, and unacceptable.

Andy Du Plessis

Managing Director of FoodForward SA

Leave a Reply