Images show arrests during taxi strike in SA, not black people detained by separatist political party

As elections loom in South Africa, the Cape Independence Party is licking its wounds after failing to make the provincial ballot despite two court challenges. Posts have surfaced claiming to show party members detaining black people for “walking after hours”. But this is false: the photos are from 2023 and show the arrest of suspects during a violent taxi strike in the Western Cape. Furthermore, South Africa is not under curfew.

“STELLENBOSCH: Cape Independence and Afriforum detain Black people for walking after hours,” reads the X post published May 1, 2024.

Stellenbosch is a Winelands town in South Africa’s Western Cape province.

South Africa’s AfriForum group focuses on the interests of Afrikaans people while the Cape Independence Party wants a separate state in the Western Cape (archived here and here).

Screenshot of the false X post, taken on May 6, 2024

The two nighttime pictures in the post show rows of people lying on a tarred sidewalk with their hands bound behind their backs.

In the comments, those who believed the claim applauded the party for its purported actions. Others, however, identified the footage as stemming from unrelated events.

Screenshot of some of the post’s comments

The account, called “No to CapeXit”, appears to oppose the idea of independence in the Western Cape.

Contentious politics

As reported by AFP, the party believes that “South Africa cannot be saved” and “Cape Independence is our only hope” (archived here).

Also known as CapeXit, it was one of two parties campaigning ahead of the May 29 national and provincial elections to create a separate state in the Western Cape.

But CapeXit lost a court battle against the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in April after new regulations meant it could not contest in the upcoming elections (archived here). The party said it would try again in the 2026 municipal elections.

Founded in 2007, it still maintains a mainly white base despite advocating non-racialism, stirring memories of racial segregation during the apartheid era (archived here).

But the claim is false. 

Taxi strike

A reverse image search led to posts and articles from August 2023 when a violent taxi strike sparked chaos in the Western Cape. 

Anti-crime activist Ian Cameron published one of the pictures in an X post on August 7, 2023, congratulating the police for the arrest of taxi industry members (archived here).

The same picture also appeared on the road safety website Arrive Alive on the same date (archived here).

The second picture in the false post was taken from the opposite angle. 

AFP Fact Check identified a man in a red jacket with a neon hat and another in a white long-sleeved shirt. The tree next to the fence and the pattern of debris in the roadside gutter are the same in both pictures.

A marked comparison of the two pictures

During the eight-day taxi strike, five people died and more than 120 people were arrested.

Minibus taxi drivers had been demonstrating in South Africa’s second-largest city against the municipality’s decision to impound taxis that were not roadworthy or linked to unpaid traffic fines (archived here).

The dispute turned violent, with protesters barricading roads, setting buses alight and stoning privately owned cars (archived here).

“After-hours” arrest

The post is also wrong to suggest that it is illegal to be outside “after hours”.

The last time South Africa was under curfew was during the Covid-19 pandemic. The midnight curfew was lifted at the end of 2021 (archived here).

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