Burning cars, closed businesses and dead bodies laying on the street told the story of a violent attack in the small town of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.
The shootout between two warring taxi associations brought the town to a standstill on Tuesday morning.
Media reports say at least three people were killed in the shootout that allegedly took place at a taxi rank in Port St Johns.
It is understood that members of rival taxi associations – the Ncedo Taxi Association from Lusikisiki, another small town in the province 44km away from Port St Johns, and the Border Alliance Taxi Association based in Port St Johns – squared off in a shootout.
It is reported that the heavily armed taxi operators from Lusikisiki allegedly invaded the small town on a mission to carry out the attack.
After the gunshots had stopped three bodies, including those of people in security guard uniforms, were seen laying on the street.
Deputy secretary and organiser for a business forum in Port St Johns, Mbongeni Kotana, confirmed that businesses were forced to close and learners who were going to school were forced to return home home due the violence.
“It is alleged that taxi operators from the Ncedo Taxi Association in Lusikisiki went to the rank [operated by members] of the Border Alliance Taxi Association and fired shots,” said Kotana
Kotana said calm has since returned to the small town after the deployment of law-enforcement officers who continue to monitor the situation.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said an 11-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after he was struck by a stray bullet in Tuesday morning’s attack.
At least three vehicles were torched and the police managed to arrest nine suspects, according to Naidu.
Provincial police commissioner Nomthetheleli Mene urged the warring taxi associations to work together and find amicable solutions to their ongoing disagreements.
“Such lawlessness will not be tolerated as innocent lives are placed at risk,” said Mene.
“We call on all stakeholders to come forward and engage in constructive discussions and urgently find a solution, so as to avoid further loss of lives.”