Another taxi owner killed, woman wounded as Paarl violence intensifies
Two police officers who were on their way to assist in the arrests of 15 people allegedly involved in the shooting, sustained minor injuries when they were involved in an accident. Both were taken to a hospital for treatment.
The violence continued despite a number of visits by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and his provincial counterpart, MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, to try to get the taxi associations to end the violence.
It has claimed more than 10 lives since it broke out at the start of January, bringing services to a halt.
The Paarl Alliance Taxi Association, under Codeta Taxi Association, and the Cata Boland Taxi Association are at loggerheads, allegedly over routes.
Residents alerted the police to Wednesday’s shooting between taxi drivers at Mbekweni railway station.
A 26-year-old woman was struck and minutes later a 40-year-old taxi owner was found dead in a shack, allegedly as a direct result of the shooting.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said the first person to be arrested was a 49-year-old from Mbekweni, who was in possession of a 9mm pistol and a magazine with nine rounds.
The second suspect was a 62-year-old taxi driver from Khayelitsha, and several 9mm and R5 rounds were found at the scene.
“The taxis fled, but were stopped at the corner of New and Lady Grey streets by Paarl taxi rank, where 13 suspects, aged between 24 and 48, from Khayelitsha, were arrested for the possession of an undisclosed amount of ammunition and a 9mm firearm.
“One of the arrested suspects, a 48-year-old man, was found wounded in a taxi and taken to a nearby medical facility, where he is under police guard,” he said.
Van Wyk said the suspects would appear in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Mbalula and Madikizela had issued a warning to taxi associations that “drastic measures” such as closing the local taxi ranks would be taken if the clashes persisted.
A team of specialist detectives from the provincial Serious Violent Crimes Unit was tasked to investigate the shootings. A team of mediators was also tasked with finding solutions.
Madikizela said: “I welcome the arrest of the suspects. I recently appointed a mediator to engage all stakeholders before making recommendations towards a lasting peace and solution to the conflict. It is unfortunate that we witnessed more killings in the middle of the mediation process.”
While Cata could not be reached for comment, Codeta spokesperson Besuthu Ndungane refused to comment, referring questions to Mbalula.