PIETERMARITZBURG, June 1 – An on-going feud between long distance taxi operators erupted into a violent shootout which left one bystander dead at the Pietermaritzburg taxi rank on Friday.
Masukwana taxi rank resembled a war zone as the shootout continued in the morning forcing commuters, street traders and learners at nearby M.L. Sultan High School to run for cover.
“It was during our lunch break around ten in the morning when all of a sudden we heard the exchange of gunfire and that time everyone ran for cover. You can imagine the chaos as kids took cover,” said one teacher, who did not want to be named.
Learners were allowed to leave just after midday and had to use a side exit as the main entrance led to the scene of the shooting.
A double cab belonging to a security company attached to the taxi rank was torched.
A street vendor relived the horror of the shooting which she described as the scariest moment of her life.
“I saw him as he fell down and make his last movements. It is so unfair because that person was just going about his routine when he got shot, there was a smell of gunfire,” the shocked vendor said.
She lamented the fact that the shooting meant that they did not make any money, but said she was still grateful that she had not been harmed.
Commuters were left stranded as the taxi rank was cordoned off by police who were still conducting an investigation after midday. No arrests had yet been made by then.
KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda visited the scene and urged commuters to remain calm.
“Government is aware of the situation and we are working at ensuring that those responsible for this are dealt with through the law,” Kaunda told commuters.
He held a marathon meeting with operators in a bid to resolve the tensions. This is the second shooting at the rank this year.