The taxi strike's dark shadow

David Bullard writes on the important lesson the ANC would have learnt from the havoc in Cape Town


Last wednesday, being a public holiday and with no taxis on the road, we decided to drive out to Betty’s Bay to meet friends for lunch. The coastal road, known as Clarence Drive, is probably one of the most beautiful and perfect roads you could wish for. I’ve driven a few scenic drives in Europe in the past when I was posing as a motoring journalist but none come anywhere close to the mountain hugging road between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els.

One minute you are high above the ocean and the next you are at sea level with the ocean almost lapping at your car door. The road is well maintained and the cambers make it perfect for the motorcycle breakfast run or a joyride in an open top sports car with manual transmission. Drivers of automatic vehicles completely miss out on the thrill of gear changing on a road with plenty of bends. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

The rockfalls and landslides that occurred after the winter rains have now been sorted out (this would never happen in a non DA run province) so Clarence Drive is now the most sensible route to Hermanus from Somerset West if you want to avoid the hassle of the N2 and the possibility of broken down heavy vehicles at Sir Lowry’s Pass or burning tyres as you drive past Grabouw.

At Rooi Els you leave the sea view and drive through Pringle Bay and into Betty’s Bay when the sea comes back into view again. And it was there, as I stood at my friend’s kitchen window that I thought I saw a whale tail disappearing into the ocean.

Nobody believed me and so binoculars were produced and three whales were spotted plus a school of dolphins frolicking not far away. And that convinced me that, for all our many troubles, the advantages of living in the Western Cape far outweigh any temptation to move elsewhere.

I have friends who were last in South Africa in the 1990’s just after our first democratic election. They have fond memories of a visit to Johannesburg and the Kruger Park but they never visited Cape Town. So a few weeks ago I got an e-mail telling me that they were fed up with the English weather and were planning a trip to South Africa to, among other things, see old friends like us in January 2024.

One of the things they wanted to do was to visit the Zulu battlefields which I managed to dissuade them from doing without going into huge detail as to what a dangerous place KZN has become.

Their focus moved to the Western Cape and I suggested they fly directly to Cape Town International and avoid Johannesburg completely. So the plan is (or was) that they would fly into CTI, hire a car, spend a few days in Cape Town doing things like visiting Robben Island and Kirstenbosch and then driving up the west coast to Paternoster before moving back inland to Franschhoek and then to Somerset West where we would show them the sights for a few days and take them along the glorious Clarence Drive coastal road for lunch somewhere.

They loved the idea and e-mails were enthusiastically pinging and ponging back and forth until last week when the tragic news broke of a UK doctor who was murdered during the taxi strike because he took a wrong turn coming out of Cape Town airport. It’s easily done and while many Garmin sat-navs have a setting allowing the driver to avoid motorways and toll-roads there is no setting to avoid murderers.

Not surprisingly this dreadful news made international headlines and I suspect the reason I haven’t heard from my friends in the UK is that maybe they are not so keen to visit after all. They are both of my vintage and, while they are hail and hearty and do things like sailing yachts in the Aegean Sea I don’t think they are looking for trouble. So like many potential tourists to this country they may well decide to give us a miss, stay alive and watch the video instead. I would probably do the same if offered a two-week holiday in Niger.

The fall-out from the week-long taxi strike has yet to be assessed but I wouldn’t set too much store on what you are likely to read in the mainstream media. Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has already been criticised for pointing out that the terms and conditions the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) finally agreed to were what was on the table a week earlier ahead of all the mayhem, murder and arson.

It has been suggested that he is ‘gloating’ and rubbing salt into the wound when all he is doing is answering a question that any intelligent journalist would ask; what was the difference between the final agreement and what you offered initially? The answer is nothing according to Hill-Lewis who would have no motive to lie.

The only hiccup in the whole negotiation process was when a rather zealous JP Smith threatened to impound 25 taxis for every bus that was burned but, in his defence, he was a man under huge pressure at the time and the threat was soon withdrawn.

To present the taxi standoff as a battle between the white ruled Western Cape and the democratically elected black majority government as some of our media have attempted to do is nothing short of treachery. As Geordin Hill-Lewis patiently explained to the Prat in the Hat, all that is happening is that the law is being applied to those who seem to believe they are above the law. That may be the case in other provinces but not in the Western Cape.

But there are huge nagging doubts that remain, particularly ahead of the holiday season. The first is the eerie silence of Pres Frogboiler (who had to move his Women’s Day speech from Khayelitsha to Pretoria because the former was too dangerous) which might suggest that the whole thing was organised with the full support of the ANC to try and destabilise the Western Cape ahead of 2024 elections. The absurd comments from our Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga who seemed woefully ignorant of her own department’s laws when she denounced the impounding of vehicles as unlawful and the cosy meeting the Minister of Police had with SANTACO before the blockades and violence really took hold suggest massive collusion.

A conspiracy theory possibly but isn’t it amazing how many pandemic conspiracy theories turned out to be true so I wouldn’t dismiss it too readily.

What the past week in the Western Cape did prove beyond all doubt is that a smallish group of people with a political agenda can bring the entire Western Cape economy to a juddering halt within days.

Staff can’t get to work, food shops can’t receive deliveries, businesses can’t function etc. etc. That’s real power and now the ANC has tested its weapon of mass distraction it knows it has it in reserve should it need it ahead of the election.

As we know all too well, the ANC isn’t too bothered about job losses, violence or sabotaging the economy providing it can be justified in the terms of the National Democratic Revolution. As the ANC become ever more desperate to cling onto power, we must expect that they will resort to all sorts of dirty tricks.


Almost eight months after it slipped into Simonstown harbour the mystery of the Russian vessel, the Lady R, has now been explained thanks to a judicial inquiry.

Back in May the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, stated that he was pretty confident that the South Africans had loaded arms for Russia on board the ship despite professing neutrality in the Russian/Ukraine war (sorry Vlad….military exercise). This caused the rand to fall in value against the dollar and tempted four US lawmakers to urge the Biden administration to exclude SA from a treaty that allows preferential access by African countries to the US market. Even for someone so reluctant to make a decision as Pres Frogboiler it was something of a dilemma so a fact-finding panel was formed and some of the findings became public this last week.

Apparently, the Lady R was delivering a pre COVID order of weapons for the ammo starved SANDF to use in their ‘peace keeping’ activities in other parts of the dark continent. But the real question is what was loaded at the dead of night, in a heavily secured clandestine operation during those three days in December and the answer apparently is food.

Now, I would be the last person to accuse the ANC and their acolytes of telling porkie pies but are we really expected to believe that shipments of Mrs Balls chutney, biltong, boerewors and various other South African delicacies warranted the complete closure and securing of the entire harbour and all that nocturnal activity? How stupid do the ANC think we are?