Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 08/08/2023


The FW de Klerk Foundation strongly condemns the intimidation of people, the damage of property and the general violence associated with the current taxi strike in the Western Cape, led by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco). The Foundation urges all parties involved to resolve the dispute in a constructive manner, abstain from any further acts of violence and respect the Rule of Law. 

Last Thursday, Santaco called their members to immediate strike action over a new by-law that gives power to municipalities to impound vehicles rather than fining drivers for offences such as unlicensed vehicles, overloading or not displaying registration plates. 

The taxi strike has left commuters in the Western Cape stranded and has brought the economy to a halt. Workers are having to stay at home, pupils are not getting to school, and nurses and medical staff are unable to reach hospitals, nursing homes and special care facilities to attend to their patients. 

While Section 23 of the South African Constitution provides workers with labour rights, including the right to strike, any strike action needs to follow certain rules in terms of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1996 (LRA). Like all the rights in the Bill of Rights, the right to strike is not absolute, and can be limited in terms of Section 36 of the Constitution.

Section 36, also known as the “limitation clause”, states that rights may be limited by a law of general application that is ‘reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on dignity, freedom, and equality’.

In terms of Section 36, the limitation of the right to strike can take place in terms of laws of general application, such as the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 (RGA) and the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1996 (LRA).

This means that even a protected strike can be declared unprotected by the Labour Court if it degenerates into serious violence. The immunity from civil prosecution can then be lifted, opening the way for the union and its members having to pay civil damages. 

The Foundation supports the decision taken by the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town to take legal action to put an end to the wanton violence, destruction of property, and intimidation and disruption of the lives of ordinary South Africans that has been caused by the strike. The Foundation believes that the democratic and peaceful future of South Africa depends on the willingness of government, whenever necessary, to act decisively against any attempts to undermine the Rule of Law and the values enshrined in our Constitution.  


Image © Gallo Images / Brenton Geac