A young couple’s trip to the Ballito taxi rank last week took a terrifying turn when they ended up at gunpoint – and are now asking who is in charge, police or the taxi bosses, they told North Coast Courier.
The longtime Ballito residents, who occasionally enjoy a meal of meat and phutu, dropped in at the main taxi rank opposite the Junction last Thursday.
“My husband and I have often gone to get beef and phuthu at the rank,” said the young woman, a receptionist in her twenties who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
While in the rank, the woman was involved in a minor accident with one of the taxis. The couple claim they were bumped by the taxi, while the taxi association says it was the other way around.
“My husband came back to the car and before you knew it there was a crowd gathering, saying things like: ‘Maybe they must go to heaven, it’s time to shoot them’,” she said, visibly shaken more than an hour after their ordeal.
A short time later, two taxi bosses arrived accompanied by men carrying automatic rifles and wearing shirts with “VIP” emblazoned on the front.
According to the woman, one of the men insisted that the couple pays for the damage to the taxi, while the other attempted to grab the keys.
Dolphin Coast Taxi Association spokesperson Sunshine Mthiyane denied this series of events, saying it was the lady who bumped into the taxi and that they were attempting to leave the area.
“The people stopped them from running away after the accident,” he said.
According to her, the taxi bosses then told the couple to follow them to their offices in Shakaskraal.
Then a taxi security guard carrying an automatic rifle got into the back seat of their vehicle, apparently to stop them from disobeying.
The woman asked frantically: “Are you going to shoot me? Are you going to shoot me?
“They just said: ‘Follow us or we will sort you out.'”
By this point, the lady had been frantically trying to contact the authorities for assistance. After sending out messages for help on local WhatsApp groups, she was called by a member of one of the groups offering advice.
“I was talking to this woman on the phone who told me to just drive straight into Manor Estates, jump out and run to the security guards. The man in the back could hear all this, so I looked at him and said: ‘If I do this, are you going to kill me?’ He just shook his head and didn’t say anything.”
At the T-junction in front of Manor Estates, she broke away from the convoy and drove through the estate entrance. They asked security to call the police and waited for them there, with the taxi bosses.
When the police arrived, the couple said one of the taxi bosses accused them of being at the rank to buy drugs.
“The police took our statements, but one of the officers said we shouldn’t lay a charge and that it would be better if we just stayed away from the station,” she told the Courier.
The police calmed the situation and were leaving when the taxi bosses told the couple to go with them to get a quote for the damage.
“I asked the police, what if these guys shoot us? They said: ‘It’s OK, we know these guys.’”
This week Umhlali SAPS spokesperson Captain Vinny Pillay said the attending officers denied telling the couple not to lay charges.
What they had meant to convey, he said, was that there was no need to lay a charge at that moment, but that they could visit the police station later to do so.
“I have spoken to the officers who attended the scene and I believe this was just a miscommunication.”
Pillay said he would be in touch with the couple and would investigate the matter further.
“We enforce the law, and we will not allow anybody to prevent us from doing so. It is absolutely not true that police are afraid of the taxi associations.”