TENSION has continued to sweep through the streets of Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit) after taxi drivers were prevented from operating from a rank.

The rank has been taken over by the police and traffic officers since taxi-related shootings on Tuesday.

Taxis that were taking commuters to the city were forced to stop at intersections to drp off or pick up their passengers.

A woman who owns a spaza shop at the rank was injured in the hand when police fired rubber bullets to disperse angry taximen who were fighting over long distance routes.

The members of the Topstar, Matsulu and Kabokweni taxi associations were engaged in a fight that allegedly saw some drawing firearms and firing in the air.

The fracas resulted in commuters having to jump out of the windows of the minibus taxis and run for their lives.

Police arrived in large numbers and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of angry taximen who were threatening everybody.

Several windows of vehicles other than minibus taxis were shattered but it was not immediately clear as to how that happened because of conflicting statements.

Some people claimed the windows were shot at, while others said taximen threw stones at random.

A man who was rushed to hospital by ambulance nearly lost an eye in the incident.

But no-one wanted to take the blame.

"I can confirm that our members had to use rubber bullets to disperse the angry taximen but we still have to establish how people sustained their injuries as investigations are continuing," said Senior Superintendent Sibongile Nkosi, on behalf of Police Commissioner Thulani Ntobela.

The injured woman, Gina Mthetwa of Msogwaba Trust, near Nelspruit, told Sowetan that she was shot in the hand as she ran for cover.

"I own a spaza shop at the taxi rank," Mthetwa said.

"I saw people running in all directions and I panicked.

"I got shot in the hand but I do not know how that happened because everything happened very fast."

Commuters were left stranded and the taxi rank was later packed with police vehicles after all the minibus taxis were removed.

After the shooting incident, the local taxis transporting commuters to and from places such as KaNyamazane, Daantjie, Msogwaba, Matsulu, Lehawu, Mganduzeni were the most affected.