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04 Dec 2007 10:15
Paramedics have confirmed that four people were injured after a taxi turf war broke out involving taxi associations from around Durban on Tuesday. Police said some associations were attempting a takeover of a taxi rank.
KwaZulu-Natal minister of transport and community safety Bheki Cele said it is unfortunate that this happened just three hours before the unveiling of the summer-holiday road-safety plan.
“This shooting has just dampened the festive spirit,” he said.
Cele also said the incident comes at a time when the province is busy making a video on taxi turf wars to educate taxi drivers and operators about the reality and aftermath of violence.
Police spokesperson Inspector Michael Read said the drama had unfolded at 4am.
“The Durban Liner Taxi Association, the Pinetown Taxi Association, the South Beach Taxi Association and the Chesterville Taxi Association arrived at the Claremont taxi rank in Warwick Avenue and forced their way into it—it was a rank takeover,” said Read.
He said there was a huge dispute over routes and passengers.
Police arrived at the scene soon after. “Police were negotiating with taxi owners and at 6.45am, unknown people opened fire,” said Read.
Two taxi drivers—- one from the Durban Liner Taxi Association and one from the Claremont Taxi Association—were shot at the rank. Both were taken to hospital and were reportedly in a stable condition.
Read said it was unclear how many suspects had opened fire, but confirmed that police did not injure any of them. “The rank will be closed until investigations are carried out.”
Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha, however, said paramedics had attended to three people who had been shot at the taxi rank. He said while this was happening, police began chasing a gold BMW that was driving away from the crime scene.
The car—with two occupants inside—was pulled over on Ridge Road, near McCords Hospital. “The passenger of that vehicle—believed to be in his mid-50s—sustained a gunshot wound in the chest and he was taken to Addington Hospital under police escort,” said Botha. The driver of the car was taken into police custody.
Cele confirmed that two men, believed to be responsible for the taxi shooting, were arrested.
“I have sent department officials to the scene and they will be speaking to taxi leadership about this turf war ... our mission is that all passengers are safe this festive season,” he said.
“It’s ironic that at the moment we are busy putting a video on taxi wars together, to educate taxi drivers and members about the consequences of their actions and the aftermath of violence and shooting incidents. The video is to teach them what happens after ... the reality of what they are doing,” Cele added.
Read said both men arrested for the shootings were from the Claremont Taxi Association and will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Witnesses earlier said passengers who use taxis from the Claremont Taxi Rank were forced to take buses to work after the shooting. Many were too afraid to even get into another taxi. Members of the Claremont Taxi Rank could not be reached for comment.—Sapa
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