Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Taxi Tuesday - and all hell breaks loose in the city!

Ho hum ... another taxi strike hit Jozi today. It started out quietly and then it all tumbled into chaos and got completely out of control.
I must admit, the drive into work this morning was utterly fantastic as the roads were unnaturally quiet. No taxis. Anywhere. No annoying hooting, no sudden screaming stops because the dude in front of you spots passenger potential and slams on anchors, no need for nifty lane changes to a avoid fatal collision with an oncoming taxi using your lane for his convenience. Blissful indeed, had it not been for the scores of desperate souls left hitching or queuing at bus stops.
At the office early shift journos were matched up with photographers and dispatched to various hot spots.
And then, just as normal traffic started to peak, the brown stuff hit the fan. Taxi drivers started blocking roads, intimidating people, dancing in the streets with knobkieries and causing general pandemonium.
The cops stood firm and took control as renegade bunches started moving towards Newtown where they planned to gather and then march through town to the ANC. One lot in Soweto used their cars to blockade a main road and forced motorists to turn around and head back homewards.
The police got annoyed. The grabbed one stroppy guy and slapped him. He ran back towards his taxi where he joined his mates and they began dancing in front of their makeshift roadblock, taunting our men in blue. NOT a good idea. Seconds later rubber bullets were flying their way, their taxis sported a few new dents and they were reduced to shivering wrecks with their hands in the air as they surrendered. Round one to the cops!
But then it got more ugly. Taxi drivers then targeted the highways and began causing trouble, particularly near Sandton. They stopped buses, pulled passengers out and beat them with wheel spanners. Innocent motorists were turned on as drivers hit their cars, smashed lights in their efforts to terrorise and intimidate. The police had their hands full keeping the peace.
By late morning there was utter chaos everywhere. A bunch of taxis drove bunched together through town towards the ANC headquarters which happen to be located across the road from our offices.
We heard hooting, then engines backfiring and the horrible sounds of chaos erupting followed by the comforting bangs of rifles firing off rounds of rubber bullets. The sounds of Jozi!
Those of us in the office ran towards the windows to catch a glimpse of the action in the streets below.
One concerned executive editor peered out and spotted the numerous cops, some of them armed with real R4 rifles rather than the mean-looking weapons they use for the less serious stuff.
He had some sage words of advice:
"Now would be the time to move away from the window, you guys. Because if that oke down there gets an itchy finger, you're all gonna end up doing f***ing yoga!".


  1. Sage advice indeed. Did he do some army service? The sound of guns firing should mean everyone runs away from the window. What a horrible experience for the unsuspecting motorists who got caught up in the mayhem.

  2. It was a crazy day - but I loved driving around Jo'burg, the roads were so quiet.