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Vehicles set alight in Cape Town amid commuter chaos caused by minibus taxi strike

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August 4, 2023
By The Associated Press

By Gerald Imray

Vehicles were set on fire in the South African city of Cape Town on Friday after a dispute between taxi drivers and local authorities earlier in the week sparked days of disorder.

South African media reported that the driver of a city bus was shot and wounded in the unrest. Police didn’t confirm that.

But there have been “several incidents of public violence,” police said, and buses, trucks and private vehicles were set alight in a number of areas in and on the outskirts of South Africa’s second-largest city.

Cape Town police spokesman Col. Andre Traut said that officers were on high alert for more trouble over the weekend.


Drivers of minibus taxis — South Africa’s main means of transport for city commuters — had announced a weeklong city-wide strike in Cape Town on Thursday in response to what they described as heavy-handed tactics by police and city authorities. The drivers claim they have had their vehicles impounded for minor offenses like not wearing a seat belt, when other motorists are issued fines.

Some taxi drivers and police were involved in scuffles on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The strike has caused chaos for tens of thousands of South Africans commuting to and from Cape Town’s city center, with many forced to walk long distances to work and back home. Lines of people trudged along the edge of the highway leading out of Cape Town on Thursday night.

City buses — sometimes seen as a rival method of transportation to the taxis — have often been the targets of violence amid protests or strikes by the taxi drivers. Officials from the minibus taxis’ national union denied that their members were responsible for the violence and torching of vehicles.

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