‘The murder of 13 taxi drivers was a mistake’

Family members at the memorial service of the taxi drivers killed in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ivory Park taxi drivers attending the memorial service of their 10 colleagues who were shot and killed in KwaZulu-Natal, claimed that the deceased were shot by mistake.

The memorial service took place at Rabie Ridge Community Hall on 26 July. A total of 13 taxi men were shot and killed in an ambush by unknown gunmen on the R74 between Colenso and Weenen while returning from a funeral of taxi owner, Nkosi Mthembu on 21 July.

Eleven people who were shot, died at the scene while two succumbed to their wounds in hospital. About 250 cartridges were found.

Taxi drivers attending the memorial service who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity claimed that the death of their colleagues was a big mistake.

They alleged that the gunmen who killed them were linked to Mthembu’s murder which took place at Swazi Inn in Ivory Park on 11 July. Mthembu was shot and killed with two other men while seated in his brand-new Toyota Quantum.

“The gunmen were looking for Mthembu’s right-hand man. He changed vehicles with the deceased before returning back to Gauteng. It was a big mistake and innocent people were killed. We are not afraid because we have nothing to do with the conflict. This was a very sad mistake. Those boys were still young and didn’t know anything. They were just going to bury their boss,” claimed the taxi drivers.

South African National Taxi Council spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said that they were aware of the allegations.

“We have noted the allegations but we have internally chosen not to act on them. We are trusting the police to investigate the matter. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, should one of the drivers be implicated, only then we would take necessary measures,” he said.

Lebogang Skosana a sister to one of the deceased, Bafana Skosana, said her brother was going to turn 25 on 30 July. “He was still so young and never violent. He was friendly and liked laughing. He joined the taxi industry in 2016 and used it to make a living for himself. Our mothers were sisters. His mother died while he was still young and he never knew his father. His death has devastated us and we want all those involved in his murder to face the might of the law,” she said.

Nompilo Mabuza mourns the death of her partner Vusimuzi Gumede.

Nompilo Mabuza could not hold back her tears as she spoke about her partner Vusimuzi Gumede (28) who was among those killed. Gumede, who was originally from Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, had worked in the taxi industry for the past two years.

“I still don’t believe he is gone. We had lived together for seven years and he was planning to pay lobola for me in January next year. He was humble, respectful and kind. I want to know why they [gunmen] killed him and they must be punished,” she said.

South African National Taxi Council president Philip Thaibosch said he blamed taxi owners, government and the media for the violence in the taxi industry. “The media is responsible for the image they portray to the public about the taxi industry. Taxi owners should not put drivers in trouble because of their conflicts. Drivers should also not put owners in trouble because of their unresolved issues,” he said.

A suspect arrested for another crime may be linked to the murder.

What do you think are possible solutions to taxi violence? Tweet us @MidrandReporter

 

Also check out:

Cape Town #Taxistrike: Shocking footage and images surface on Twitter

Top story of the week: 10 Ivory Park taxi drivers shot dead

  AUTHOR
Lungile Dube

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