Those taxi drivers in Cape Town, man. I’ve never seen such selfish behaviour. They know that we white people require immediate and unobstructed access to the airport at all times of day and night. What are we meant to do when the genocide starts? Catch a train to Durban and hope to buy our way onto a ship to Europe? Do trains even run to Durban any more? Of course not. We’d have to go via Bloemfontein and risk being genocided before we could even change trains.
Is what’s happening even a taxi strike? From where I’m sitting, with my feet up on the dog and a tankard of beer in one hand, it seems more like a low-intensity war. A confusing one, even by South African standards. On one side, a private army of mostly overweight, undisciplined, shabbily dressed scofflaws whose only skills are offensive driving and threatening gestures. On the other side, ordinary folk trying to get to their jobs, schools or court hearings. And, of course, the aforementioned non-black people who understandably object to having their access to the airport compromised.
Bad people on both sides, to be sure, but most of the good people aren’t taxi owners or drivers. They are led by the mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, a dangerously young man who was inexplicably born in Plettenberg Bay. People only go to Plett on holiday. I have never heard of anyone being born there and a closer investigation into the circumstances of the mayor’s birth wouldn’t be unwarranted.
Geordin is like the love child of Margaret Thatcher and Allan Pinkerton. Allan who, you might say? And you’d be right. Our man was a Scottish immigrant who started a private police force in Chicago in 1850. The Pinkertons gained a reputation for ruthlessly protecting the interests of capital, especially when it came to striking workers.
Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management is now owned by the Swedes, a murderous lot beneath their calm exterior, and they still use intimidation and threats of arrest, fines and jail to force compliance with their goals.
Perhaps I’m giving Geordin too much credit. He’s a big guy, and so am I, but I wouldn’t be afraid to bump his arm in the pub, causing him to spill his drink. In other words, he’s no Allan Pinkerton. Or Thatcher. Come to think of it, he’s more like the love child of Tinky-Winky and Winnie-the-Pooh.
But what he does have is the backing of every man, woman and child who has ever had an unpleasant encounter with a taxi driver. And that’s a lot of people.
The Mau Mau of the taxi world, on the other hand, have the likes of the EFF and that unremitting cockwomble Zwelinzima Vavi on their side. In a statement, Julius Malema’s merry band of brigands gave examples of how unfairly taxi drivers are treated by the racist, neo-colonialist counter-revolutionaries who run the Western Cape.
“A minibus taxi was impounded because its taxi operator was found smoking the car alone,” said their statement, its eyes crossed and drooling lightly. I know for a fact that people in Cape Town will smoke pretty much anything, but I’ve never seen anyone sucking on a car’s exhaust. Perhaps because I don’t move in those circles.
The party also called for the immediate removal of Cape Town’s MMC for safety and security, JP Smith. Can’t argue with that. There’s something not right about that man.
Helpfully, they advised companies to enforce a stayaway to “stand in solidarity” with taxi operators. I can already see the memo: “All staff are warned that reporting for work will result in disciplinary action.”
The EFF said they remained opposed to some or other new traffic by-law. Comrades, we’re all opposed to by-laws. Personally, I’d like to live in a society with no laws at all. I’m an old-school anarchist in that way. But humans are the worst-behaved species on the planet and so we need laws. It would make more sense to complain about Cape Town cops being less susceptible to bribery than those in, say, Joburg.
Laws are hardly ever changed by torching buses and shooting children in the face. That’s because the people who make the laws have all the power. They will always win. Unless you’re a banana republic in West Africa, in which case whoever has the most expensive sunglasses wins.
There needs to be a compromise. Don’t fine taxi drivers if they fail to indicate before turning or unexpectedly stop in the middle of the road. In Africa, it’s important not to signal your intentions ahead of time. Survival rests on the element of surprise.
Seat belts? A construct from the days of colonial Kenya when the degenerate British expatriates had to be strapped into their vehicles to avoid falling out on the way back to Happy Valley after another night of gin-quaffing and wife-swapping. White mischief, indeed.
Having functional brakes is also overrated. That’s why hooters were invented. And if there’s one thing our taxi drivers are very good at, it’s hooting.
Finally, impounding taxis is not helping. What we need to do is start impounding the drivers. They take up less room and hardly ever leak oil.