File picture: ANA

Cape Town - The Bellville minibus taxi rank in Cape Town has been closed after commuters were caught in violent crossfire between rival taxi associations, Western Cape transport and public works MEC Donald Grant said on Saturday.

"Escalating violence between rival taxi associations in Bellville has seen two commuters caught in the crossfire," Grant said in a statement.

"The violence erupted between CATA affiliated Bellville Taaxi Association (BELLTA) and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association (Bloewata) as shots were fired at Bellville taxi rank," he said.

Two commuters were wounded in the shooting and were admitted to hospital. Grant wished the two commuters a speedy recovery.

After consultation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Taxi Registrar, the Bellville taxi rank had been closed until the situation was assessed to be safe again for commuters.

The registrar had also informed both associations of their suspension with immediate effect. Violence had also broken out between the two warring groups in July this year, compelling the transport and public works department to appoint a mediator in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution.

SAPS, metro police, and traffic authorities had already implemented operational plans to secure the Bellville interchange. "Our officials will be assisting authorities in their investigations and clamping down on violence that threaten the safety of commuters," Grant said.

It was unacceptable that disputes within the minibus taxi industry continued to be violent in nature. There was no dispute that could not be resolved peacefully and through reaching consensus. 

"I implore taxi industry leaders to promote peace among their ranks and to prioritise the safety of commuters above all else," Grant said.

African News Agency (ANA)