Cape Town restaurants severely impacted by ongoing taxi violence

On-going taxi rivalry and violence in Cape Town has resulted in several restaurants in the Mother City shutting their doors to ensure the safety of their employees.

Many employees who form the backbone of the restaurant industry in Cape Town rely on public transport to reach work. With the heightened and continuous violence amongst taxis in Cape Town, these individuals are unable to reach work safely.

In a press statement, Alan Winde, Premier of the Western Cape explains the impact of the taxi violence on businesses and residents: “This violence is not only costing lives but also livelihoods, as people battle to get safely to work, as some operations come to a stand-still. While this is not happening along all routes, it is having a severe impact on many residents”

Restaurants across the country have been knocked down not only by Lockdown regulations but by civil unrest and violence. Closing a restaurant for a day or more can have serious implications for the business and its employees.

Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room has opted to close its doors to ensure the safety of its employees. In an interview with Eat Out, Lyndall Maunder, owner of Clarke’s explains why they have decided to close, shedding light on the fact that even staff vehicle transport services are being targeted.

“This has been going on at an intense level since last week. Our staff transport vehicle has been unable to travel to the normal meeting places or take staff home because they are targeted too. Transport vehicles can’t go near taxi ranks, commuters can’t be seen taking a bus and are prevented from getting to the bus stops from their homes. The new meeting places that our staff transport chose as a safe collection point for them is every far from employees’ homes, and it is a very dangerous walk and wait for them.”

Violence around the dispute over taxi routes has been ongoing and alternative measures implemented by Clarke’s to help staff who require transport have been futile – as it places them at a dangerous risk.

“We had already closed last week Thursday night because we knew the driver wouldn’t be able to get into the townships. We were closing early on most days to try to help staff miss the bus queues. On Saturday no one from the kitchen could get in and we closed for the full day and night. On Sunday we made a plan with our transport and I put pressure on the staff and they came in, it was a frightening experience and one staff member barely missed being attacked (weekends are more deserted and more so with the transport not running). People cannot travel like this, it’s a simple fact. This is not fear brought about by social media. People are stuck in their homes, shot at in their vehicles, have to stand in queues for hours and take impossible risks to get to work for fear of losing their jobs. And that is why we closed,” adds Maunder.

Maunder explains that the restaurant opted to hire private transport to ensure the safety of its staff.

“A few years ago we brought in private transport for the morning shift coming to work and the evening shift going home. The mornings – in winter especially, are dark, cold and dangerous. The nights are exceptionally dangerous. The enormous effort and time spent by individuals to get from these far-out townships to their place of work is nothing short of miraculous.”

Other restaurants such as Kleinsky’s have faced staff shortages due to the taxi violence. Adam Klein, owner of Kleinskys explains that they have had to juggle their roster to accommodate the shortage of staff due to transportation issues in the city but is positive that they can manage this crisis and remain open.

“No, we won’t close, ” he says. “By now we are used to having to deal with a crisis. It’s pretty much our default setting at this point. At the end of the day, our top priority is the safety of our staff. Whatever is needed to achieve that is how we will adjust and adapt”

The overall impact of a restaurant being forced to close is detrimental to its staff and the overall business – along with the impacts of COVID restrictions and regulations. Maunder explains that her staff will be relying on TERS to support them for each day that the restaurant is closed.

“Now we are in a no work no pay scenario and will be claiming TERS for every day closed. We have already dug a hole, not too big yet, and having a no work, no pay scenario is unacceptable, but we have to have a long-term view and to save the jobs we need to keep the business running, to do that we can’t send out funds we don’t have. We are relying on TERS to supplement the lost earnings and bring some relief.”

Another restaurant that has opted to close includes Honest Chocolate to ensure the safety of its staff.

Mauder explains that Clarke’s may remain closed: “If people have to travel in these conditions then yes, absolutely, we’ll stay closed. It is not a matter of choice.”


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With restaurants currently facing Lockdown restrictions, alcohol bans, curfews and more, the added brunt of the taxi violence is enormously detrimental to the workforce and restaurant businesses in Cape Town.


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