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Bellville residents fear for their safety after shootings lead to taxi rank closure

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Bellville residents fear for their safety after taxi drivers started forming makeshift ranks in various parts of the Cape Town suburb, following the closure of the Bellville taxi rank – a move brought about by a route dispute shooting.

“It is a ticking time bomb,” said Michael Graayvenstein, a Bellville South Neighbourhood Watch manager.

The residents’ fear getting caught in shootings after two people were injured in the crossfire at the rank on Friday.

“We are left to fend for ourselves,” he said.

Graayvenstein said that there was another shooting on Saturday.

The Bellville rank is one of the biggest in the Western Cape after the Cape Town CBD rank.

Since its closure, taxis are lining up along a bridge, taking up an entire traffic lane, and at intersections around Bellville.

Graayvenstein said the taxis were in an area where there were shops and homes.

He said the bridge itself was a known robbery hotspot, which also increased the risk to commuters who have to walk there to catch a taxi.

Apart from the increased risks associated with the taxi dispute, opportunists who target taxi ranks for theft and drug sales have also relocated to be closer to the taxis, he added.

Spokesperson for Transport MEC Donald Grant, Siphesihle Dube, said Grant did not close the rank.

It was closed after a decision by the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement unit, the province’s metro police and the SA Police Service, and discussions with the province’s taxi registrar.

It will stay closed until the situation is assessed to be safe again.

In a statement issued after Friday’s shooting, Grant said the violence erupted between the CATA-affiliated Bellville Taxi Association (Bellta) and Bloekombos-Wallacedene Taxi Association (Bloewata).

The neighbourhood watch is preparing a letter to authorities to deal with the situation.

“It’s a frustrating time for residents,” he said. “It needs to be sorted out.”

[Source: News24]
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