Durban – Eleven people died and a number were taken to hospital after a shooting alleged to be linked to taxi violence on the N11 near Ladysmith.
It is believed that a prominent taxi boss was travelling in a bakkie at the Matiwabeskop intersection with his four bodyguards when they were attacked by gunmen.
There had been tension between the Sizwe and Klipriver taxi associations recently over the issue of routes.
The bakkie driver lost control of the vehicle and it plunged into a minibus taxi carrying teachers from a local school.
It had not yet been established which school the teachers belonged to, but reports suggested that six of them were declared dead at the scene. Others were taken to hospital in a serious condition.
Kwanele Ncalane, spokesperson of the provincial Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, said the province was aware of tensions in the area between two associations and had met them last week in an attempt to end the conflict.
Ncalane said MEC Mxolisi Kaunda was disturbed by the incident and the taxi infighting in the area.
“The situation was deteriorating between the two affected associations and that is why the MEC had to meet them last week to remedy the situation. Following the shooting, we are going to act against those involved. Police will get to the bottom of this while we continue to engage with the affected taxi associations,” he said.
The MEC called for people in the area to remain calm and assist the police in their investigations.
Emergency services were being sourced from out of town and as far as Durban to respond to the death toll.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that 11 people died at the scene.
“Police are at the scene conducting investigations. What we know so far is that the driver of the bakkie who was being shot at lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a taxi. We can confirm that the taxi carried teachers who were on their way to school. The name of their school has not been confirmed,” said Zwane.
SA Taxi Council spokesperson Sthembiso Duma said they were awaiting information from taxi associations in the area.
He said they were unable to say if the shooting was taxi conflict-related until they received a full report.