Taxi strike deals blow to schools

Hundreds of taxis were parked behind a locked gate at the Masiphumelele taxi rank on Friday afternoon.

The taxi strike has stopped thousands of pupils and teachers reaching schools across the province, according to the provincial education department, and far south schools have not been spared.

Education MEC David Maynier said 456 020 pupils and 17 449 staff could not get to school on Tuesday with the Cape Town metro education districts hardest hit.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) launched a taxi strike last week because the City has impounded 6000 taxis since the start of the year, according to Santaco provincial chairperson Mandla Hermanus.

Ocean View High School has more than 1300 pupils, but last Friday, 578 pupils and 12 teachers were absent, according to principal Andrew Sanders. On Monday, it was eight teachers and 611 pupils, and on Tuesday, 11 teachers and 916 pupils.

No new work was being covered and pupils were doing revision until “things return to normal”, he said.

Masiphumelele High School deputy principal Thandiswa Mgqamqo said much of their absenteeism was from teachers, as they came from the “hot spot” areas of Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Delft. However, pupils from Red Hill, who used the school bus, and others from Capricorn and Westlake, who used contract transport, had also been absent, she said.

On Monday afternoon, the school had heard of threats to close both entrances to Masiphumelele, she said.

Simon’s Town School principal Lucrecia Harrison said there had a “high rate” of absenteeism at the school on Friday and Monday as most of the pupils relied on public transport.

“Some staff members were also affected, which prevented them to fulfil their daily tasks and this has had an effect on the daily operations of our school.”

Pupils were doing revision during the reduced turnout, and the school had advised parents to make alternative travel arrangements to ensure the safety of their children, she said.

Fish Hoek High School principal Steve Joubert said the strike had had “minimal impact on school attendance”.

He reassured parents that the school was safe and said it would continue to monitor the situation in consultation with law enforcement and the education department.

“We cancelled some sport over the weekend that required travel to other schools and encouraged parents to host learners who experienced transport challenges.”

Muizenberg High School declined to comment.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported on Monday and Tuesday, according to Ocean View police station commander Captain Nick Spreeth.

On Monday morning, at about 4.30am, there was a failed attempt to set set tyres alight on Kommetjie Road outside Masiphumelele, and on Monday night, burning tyres in Houmoed Road and Pokela Street cut off access to Masiphumelele.

There had also been some incidents of stone-throwing, Captain Spreeth said, but he could not confirm how many vehicles had been damaged.

Ocean View Community Police Forum chairman Mansoer Ismail said that on Tuesday morning, burning tyres had prevented people from leaving Masiphumelele, but Kommetjie Road had stayed open, and there was a heavy police presence in the area.

Ward 69 councillor Simon Liell-Cock said Kommetjie Road had been kept open and the police had stopped a threat by “delinquents” at the entrance to Ocean View.

“Masi residents, however, remain trapped inside Masi and are effectively being held hostage by gangs of thugs. There is a strong police presence assessing the situation. The internal tyre barricades continue to flare up and fade as do the accompanying onlookers, but they are being kept at a distance from Kommetjie Road.”

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Golden Arrow Bus Services said it was only able to “operate a severely limited service” and asked passengers to make other travel arrangements.

Fish Hoek police spokesman Warrant Officer Peter Middleton said there had been no incidents of violence at the weekend and on Monday in the Fish Hoek area. There was also no violence in Simon’s Town, according to police chief Capitan Vishnu Pillay.

The taxi rank at Longbeach Mall was deserted on Friday afternoon following the announcement of a taxi strike on Thursday.