Bellville taxi commuters should brace for a miserable day, according to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata). This is because the rank will stay closed indefinitely following an outbreak of violence last week.
Two innocent commuters were caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two rival groups, the Bellville Taxi Association (Bellta) and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association (Bloewata), on Friday.
Both are affiliated with Cata. A dispute over routes had been in the making for years, said Cata spokesperson Andile Seyamo.
He said the rank, which serves as a major interchange, would stay closed until they could reach an agreement, even if it was a temporary one.
“Opening the rank is our priority as we don’t want to leave commuters stranded,” Seyamo said.
There was no alternative plan in the interim, he said. He could not advise commuters on what to do.
“It’s not fair to them, we have to get this right. It’s also not fair on the other taxi associations,” he said.
The provincial Department of Transport and Public Works met with police and the taxi registrar last week, and both Bellta and Bloewata were immediately suspended.
Transport MEC Donald Grant said: “The SAPS, metro police and traffic authorities have already implemented operational plans to secure the Bellville interchange.
“Our officials will be assisting authorities in their investigations and clamping down on violence that threatens the safety of commuters.
“It is unacceptable that disputes within the minibus taxi industry continue to be violent in nature. There is no dispute that cannot be resolved peacefully and through reaching consensus.”
Last week, three suspects were arrested for a double murder in Brackenfell, which neighbours Kraaifontein.
Both men are believed to be taxi bosses and were on the corner of Labelle and Watts roads when the killers opened fire.
The suspects were then followed by police, and a high-speed chase ensued, which ended in Khayelitsha.
Four 9mm firearms and ammunition were confiscated. The suspects are expected in court soon.
In June, a Bellville taxi driver was killed following a shooting at the rank, which also left a commuter wounded.
That was followed by deadly wars over routes between operators associated with the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations and Cata in Delft, Nyanga and Khayelitsha, which left 15 drivers dead and several passengers wounded.