Taxi violence escalates in Joe Slovo Park

Last week a man was found hiding in this MyCiTi bus stations toliet after he had been involved in the Saturday June 16 shooting.

Police are investigating the shootings at the Joe Slovo Park taxi rank that left one person dead and seven injured last week.

The violence on Tuesday morning comes amid fears of a growing taxi war across the city. Just days before, Police Minister Bheki Cele held talks with taxi organisations at the Delft taxi rank – the scene of at least 13 deaths in recent weeks – where he said 44 people had died in Western Cape taxi violence so far this year.

A taxi driver was shot dead while travelling a Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) route in Durbanville on Saturday morning.

An unidentified man fired several rounds inside the taxi. Two passengers escaped unharmed and, according to police, the gunman fled in an unidentified car. Cata in Bellville says it will wait for the police to finish their investigation before commenting.

Earlier this month, a taxi boss and a security guard were slain in a drive-by shooting at the Masiphumelele taxi rank near Fish Hoek.

Three days before the shootings at Joe Slovo taxi rank, police arrested a suspect after a man was shot and wounded.

They found the suspect hiding in the MyCiTi toilets and recovered 21 bullets from a toilet drain (“Taxi rank shooting leaves four wounded,” Tabletalk, June 20).

Many in Joe Slovo are now living in fear and are reluctant to speak to the media.

Grace Mthombo, a Joe Slovo mother of two young boys, who regularly travels by taxi, said she hoped the conflict ends soon.

“We heard that the shootings were a result of taxi violence and that it was between the Slovo taxis and Mitchell’s Plain taxis. Whatever happened, I just hope it goes away very soon,” she said.

A man who didn’t want to be named said the taxi drivers were out of control and gave little thought to passengers’ safety or the safety of Joe Slovo’s residents.

Siphesihle Dube, spokesman for Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant, said conflict between legal and illegal operators appeared to have prompted the shooting at the Joe Slovo rank.

The rank is on the corner of Freedom Way and Omuramba Road. A MyCiTi stop is about
20 metres away on Omuramba Road, and Sinenjongo High School is across the road from the rank.

Ysterplaat Taxi Association vehicles queue at the rank; Dunoon Taxi Association taxis pick up and drop off nearby but don’t queue there. The morning after the shooting, police and City law enforcement cordoned off and searched the area.

“Two firearms with magazines and live ammunition, as well as an imitation firearm were found,” said SAPS Western Cape spokesman Captain FC van Wyk.

“One suspect was arrested for possession of drugs. Traffic fines for various offences were issued to a total value of R198 100 and twelve taxis were impounded,” he said.

Henry Williams, the chairman of Route 6 Taxi Association
(a Mitchell’s Plain taxi association), denied any of their members were involved in the violence, as Joe Slovo wasn’t on their route.

“Our route goes from Mitchell’s Plain straight to Century City and doesn’t go into Joe Slovo,” he said.

Rogue drivers or someone else pulling the strings could be behind the shootings, he said.

Leon Williams, South African Taxi Council (SANTACO) regional chairman, said they were doing all they could to find out what led to the shooting in Joe Slovo.

“Everyone seems to be tight-lipped about the situation, but we are doing all we can to try and get together the relevant parties and find a solution for this,” he said.

A taxi owner who did not want to be named, said the violence had nothing to do with the Joe Slovo taxis.

“In the middle of last year, we had an agreement with about 25 taxi drivers from Mitchell’s Plain, who are not part of any association, to take people to and from Joe Slovo. The agreement were for them to drive past and not stand and make a form of a taxi rank across the road from our rank,” he said.

But another Mitchell’s Plain taxi group had started operating in the same area at the beginning of the year and tensions had flared between the two of them On the day of the shooting, the first Mitchell’s Plain group had been loading passengers in Joe Slovo when the newcomers had started shooting up the place, said the taxi owner.

He wasn’t at the rank at the time of the shooting, but he believes the shooters used assault rifles based on the size of the bullet holes left in four of the taxis, one of which was his.

Police wouldn’t confirm whether they retrieved any shell casings or bullet fragments from the scene.