Bellville taxi rank with not a single taxi visible. The Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association said the Bellville taxi rank would stay closed indefinitely or until the Bellville Taxi Association and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association could reach an agreement over routes.
Taxi operators say they are hopeful the fragile truce between feuding taxi associations that led to the closure of Bellville taxi rank will curb the bloodshed.

Peace talks between Bellville Taxi Association (Belta) and the Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association (Bloewata), which are both affiliated to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata), are expected to continue on Monday.

Two commuters were wounded in violent shoot-outs last weekend when Bloewata operators went to the Bellville taxi rank demanding they be reassigned taxi routes.

The rank is one of the largest in the northern suburbs and serves as an interchange for many commuters using both trains and taxis.

It has been the battleground between feuding operators over routes for years.

And with the South African National Taxi Council’s (Santaco) provincial elective conference expected to take place next month, operators have called for the election of a crop of leaders capable of tackling issues that lead to bloodshed at taxi ranks.

According to operators from Kraaifontein, the conflict that led to the closure of both ranks was a result a feud over Kraaifontein members who benefit as members of Belta while operating and running their own association.

“At least our rights as permit holders are recognised and we can start meaningful talks that don’t involve guns and people dying.

“People will not be kept from operating because some individuals saw it fit to have us removed and were feared to the point where neither Cata, Codeta nor Santaco could get them to see reason,” said an operator who asked not to be identified.

“Now what does this say about the effectiveness of the leadership of Santaco and the taxi registrar when they can be defied to such an extent?

“In the last year that our taxis have not been operating here, nobody could reason with these people.

“We cannot have that at the conference next month.

“It does not bode well for us when we cannot guarantee the safety of our commuters, when peace talks are built on shaky ground by leaders who cannot control their own members.”

Bloewata deputy chairperson, Ntsikelelo Marabela, said: “This all started in 2012 when there was a misunderstanding between the members of Belta, which consists of Bloewata, Nyanga and Durban Road.

“There were on and off conflicts but the real story came out last year after many murders, when we heard that as the Bloekombos team we had our own association as Bloewata and were also members of Belta and therefore enjoyed double benefits.

“But we didn’t understand the trouble with that because we paid fees to both offices and have permits to operate from Bellville.

“But there were those who wanted us out of Bellville even when the rules allow for dual memberships, so our cars were kicked out from the short/long distance routes to Worcester and other far areas, but then what persisted was the killing of people.”

While operations were back to normal at both ranks over the weekend, commuters said they were still fearful and could not trust the truce as yet.

Co-operation with agreed upon terms would ensure that both associations did not lose their permits.

Both Belta and Bloewata remain under administrative suspension, meaning they cannot lodge applications for the granting and amendment of operating licences.

Marabela said they were willing to work with anyone with permits and welcomed a chance to talk it out with fellow members.

“Too many people have died over this, around 60 since 2012 at the last count. It cannot continue like this,” he said.

Weekend Argus