Violence was unacceptable

Phiri Cawe

I don’t want to keep quiet and not congratulate my people after such a torrid two weeks of the taxi strike in the province.

Capetonians are strong people, spiritually and mentally. That strike was worse than the Covid-19 pandemic that we experienced from 2020.

Those who have survived the recent taxi strike could survive anything anywhere on planet earth.

One thing that all have to agree on is the spirit of ubuntu that we have. This is what I love about us as Africans, it is the spirit of ubuntu. After the destructive strike came to an end, the dudes released a statement via their media that says “First and foremost, on behalf of SANTACO Western Cape, I convey our sincerest condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives during the Stay Away. We stand with you in this time of grief and offer our profound sympathies. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who was negatively affected by the events of the past days.”

What did we do as survivors – smiled and woke up to board their transport and never question anything. We instead felt we were wrong for wanting to go to work while our killers were on strike. We felt the schools, clinics, libraries and our own cars deserved to be stoned and burned. We thought it was just normal to be pelted while driving your cars. The devastating blow to our lives, health system, education and our hard earned infrastructure means nothing. The effects of the strike was not in our agenda as citizens but we welcomed the suspension of the strike with a big smile.

We were damn delighted like kids seeing sweets. I am prepared to be the only one to say I do not accept the taxi industry’s apology at all. I am sorry. To me this is just to an industry that has no interest in its commuters, who do things as they like and expect us to say thank you after all. In my eyes, it’s disheartening how we black people disrupt and destroy each other and then go back as if nothing has happened.

The unfortunate part about all the taxi strikes in this province is that they are always misdirected. They can never be directed at the enemy but to the innocent working class, us, the poor, the have nots. We are always a target. We have people that were killed. But you ask why? Why do taxi operators and their owners hate us so much when we are their business supporters? What have we done to deserve this ill-treatment to people who are our fathers, brothers and uncles?

But going back to their statement, I sensed carelessness in the statement and to me there was no remorse at all after many died and probably many have lost their jobs. These are people who have caused irreparable damage to people’s lives and livelihood. So it’s all good now. Life must go on as usual. Those who lost their loved ones must accept it, just like that.

I still remember that during that ill-advised strike, the city was busy. We had a Netball World Cup and an energy conference. We could not enjoy going to the world cup that only comes around once in a while. To top it all, social media was busy with voice notes threatening us. There are these new Facebook pages that are easily spreading lies. They put more fears in us. But again, there is real media where young journalists took anything from Facebook pages and believed it.

I asked myself, when you have editors, why allow such unverified nonsense to go in newspapers and on radio? The media was not always right and that was very bothersome. I believe that spreading news on social media platforms has a major role in spreading fear among people. In fact, it is more misleading when there are strikes/protests and pandemics.

From the journalism side, there is some really bad journalism. I concluded that the current crop of media practitioners are so comfortable with facts. No one is bothered to get facts of what really is happening. I am not scared to say that, there are a handful of good journalists but a lot of bad ones. The media today is run by young people who have a fear of missing out. That becomes a problem because mostly their source is social media.

But my point here is that indulging heavily on social media, on many occasions, led us to mind dehydration which led to anxiety. During the taxi, stay away, or whatever you want to call it, a strike maybe, I felt breathless with unverified reports on social media. The level of anxiety exceeded the evidence available at hand. Driving around, of which I did at times, one could feel the intense fear, paranoia and panic.

At some point I just took a drive around the ’hood to check what was happening. In areas that I was, I was welcomed by ashes of burnt cars and tyres. Must this nonsense continue? Must we always lose our souls, infrastructure and mind every time there is a taxi strike? Because this is not the first and last strike. Are we going to sit back and ululate and join them in killings and stoning on our own?

Lastly, let me congratulate and encourage the community of Capricorn and Colorado for protecting their areas from vandals. I have seen my own calling you racists, bayaxoka. They are big liars and bloody vandals. Thanks for doing such a good work not only for you but the coming generations. We need more of you.