Ranks reopen after violence erupts

Bloekombos and Bellville taxi ranks reopened after being closed for several days due to taxi violence.

After taxi violence shut Bellville and Bloekombos taxi ranks for several days, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works says it’s optimistic a truce between two feuding taxi groups will last.

Department spokeswoman Jandre Bakker said a peace pact, signed last Thursday between the Bellville Taxi Association (BELLTA) and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association (BLOEWATA), had led to the reopening of the ranks and would be made an order of the court.

“A working committee will be established between the two associations to oversee operations on shared routes and to report violations of the agreement to the Office of the Provincial Taxi Registrar,” she said.

“The associations have also agreed not to impose decisions on one another and to respect operating rights.”

Both taxi associations are affiliated to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA).

The Department of Transport and Public Works closed the Bellville rank on Saturday September 22 after two commuters were reportedly wounded in a shootout there.

The Bloekombos rank was also closed because of taxi strife.

Closing the ranks, Ms Bakker said, had been a necessary “last resort” measure to quell spiralling violence.

“ The safety of commuters and persons entering and leaving the affected areas could no longer be guaranteed,” Ms Bakker said.

The department would continue to monitor taxi-violence hot spots, closing rank and routes and suspending operating licences if there was more bloodshed, she said.

Bloewata chairman Justice Morabela said the latest flare-up had happened after his colleagues had been accused of invading Bellville taxi routes. But he said some of them had permits to drive on Bellville routes.

The association opposed violence and was satisfied with the peace pact, he said. “I have spoken to my members and told them not to fight or be violent, but they should just operate accordingly, and they listen to me.”

Bellta did not respond to calls from Northern News.

Puzzlingly, provincial police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk told Northern News on Monday that he could not confirm there had been a shooting incident at the Bellville rank on Saturday September 22, despite Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant earlier citing the wounding of two commuters at the rank and a shootout there as a reason for closing it in the first place.

Captain Van Wyk said SAPS was monitoring the situation. “Additional police members have been deployed, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to police the taxi ranks in the Tygerberg Cluster and to maintain law and order,” he said.