EFF’s ‘shutdown’ call draws muted response

EFF protesters head along Vanguard Drive on their way to the City’s vehicle pound in Ndabeni. Picture: Bheki Radebe

Police were out in full force in Athlone on Monday as about 400 EFF protesters gathered near the Vangate Mall to protest against taxi impoundments by the City.

It was a far cry from the “shutdown” that had been promised by the EFF, and at the last minute, the ANC in the Western Cape, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the People’s Movement for Change withdrew their support for it.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) also distanced itself from the protest, with Santaco’s first deputy chairperson in Western Cape, Nceba Enge, saying a taxi service would be provided as usual but those drivers wanting to participate in the march could do so as “members of their respective political parties”.

During the protest, about 20 taxi drivers blocked Jakes Gerwel Drive, stopping Cape Town-bound traffic for about two hours before they moved off following negotiations with the police.

The protesters marched to the City’s vehicle pound in Ndabeni where EFF provincial secretary Mbulelo Magwala, presented a memorandum of demands – including the immediate release of all unjustly impounded minibus taxis – to mayoral committee member for urban mobility Roberto Quintas.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: “Due to the agreed conditions in the gatherings permit, taxis were not allowed by SAPS and Traffic to form part of the protest and the EFF’s march towards the pound area.”

EFF supporters gathered on an open field near Vangate Mall. Picture: Bheki Radebe
EFF protesters on the bridge over Jan Smuts Drive on their way to Ndabeni. Picture: Bheki Radebe
EFF supporters outside the vehicle pound in Ndabeni. Picture: Bheki Radebe
There was a strong police presence at the City’s vehicle pound. Picture: Bheki Radebe