News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday August 23rd 2019

Man critically injured, children traumatised as Hout Bay sedan taxis battle over turf

Khumbulani Khantso drives the damaged taxi belonging to his father Stays Khantso after his father was arrested following a battle over sedan taxi routes in Hout Bay on Monday 20 February, in which a man was severely injured after being shot in the back of the head and five taxis were smashed up. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

A man narrowly escaped death after he was shot in the back of the head, following a dispute over passengers and routes between two sedan taxi associations operating in Hout Bay’s Imizamo Yethu township on Wednesday morning.

Young children being transported to school were also traumatised and left stranded as rival taxi drivers smashed car windows with rocks.

Western Cape Police spokesperson Frederick Van Wyk said the man who was shot was a 37-year-old pedestrian, but this contradicted information gathered on the ground that he was a taxi driver working with the United Car Taxi Association (UCTA).

The dispute between UCTA and Imizano Yethu Sedan Taxi Association (IYSTA) – affiliated to Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) – and UCTA was a result of IYSTA members moving over to UCTA, said Malibongwe Gqoboka, a secretary at IYSTA.

A UCTA taxi driver David Mutumburwa, said he was transporting school children when he was attacked.

Mutumburwa said about 50 taxi drivers attacked his vehicle as young school children were boarding. He said he was chased and assaulted with golf clubs but managed to escape.

“I was not aware of the fights, I stopped to take on students when the group came, and they were more than 50. They threw stones at my car. I opened a door for the children to escape, some had injuries, but I could not stop. I had to save my life because they were beating me,” said Mutumburwa who appeared visibly shaken from the incident.

Community worker Makazi Puncuza said two of her grandchildren were attacked while travelling to school in a taxi.

“We reported the incident to the police and three people were arrested but then released in less than 30 minutes. When we asked why, they told us to wait outside,” said Puncuza.

Van Wyk said the two groups clashed at the taxi rank in Imizamo Yethu’s Mandela Road. “People were fighting in the street and vehicles were battered with stones. Shots were fired and a 37 year old pedestrian received a gunshot wound to the back of the head. The victim managed to get himself down to Hout Bay SAPS where he was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. His condition is stable,” Van Wyk said.

He further said a Toyota Condor transporting school children was attacked and its windows were smashed while the children still inside.

“The children did not sustain any injuries but are traumatized. All the vehicles that were damaged are taxis except for one delivery truck which was also stoned,” he said.

A 51 year old suspect was arrested for attempted murder and his licensed firearm was confiscated, he said.

Dockets of attempted murder, malicious damage to property, assault, and common public violence had been opened for investigation.

Spokesperson for Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle, Steven Otter, said immediately after the violence erupted Carlisle dispatched his department head to go to the scene and investigate.

Otter said sedan taxi associations were all illegal as they were not registered with the department.

He said there was about 35 sedan taxis in Imizamo Yethu which split and a new sedan taxi association consisting of about ten members was formed.

It was the smaller group that started the violence, he said.

“What we are trying for now is to make sure that no more violence erupts,” he said.

A meeting to resolve the sedan taxi operator’s differences was held at Houtbay Police station and attended by community leaders, a representative from the provincial Transport and Public Works department and the South Africa National Taxi Council Western Cape. Community leader Lungisa Bezile who was at the meeting, said the meeting was tense but a short term solution had been reached.

Bezile said it was agreed that the sedan taxi operators who had permits should be allowed to operate. – by Nombulelo Damba and Peter Luhanga

Tags: Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association, David Mutumburwa, Frederick Van Wyk, Hout Bay SAPS, Imizamo Yethu, Lungisa Bezile, Makazi Puncuza, Malibongwe Gqoboka, Mandela Road, provincial Transport and Public Works department, Robin Carlisle, South Africa National Taxi Council Western Cape, Steven Otter, United Car Taxi Association

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