Murder sparks fears of taxi war in Gauteng
A GAUTENG taxi association, which lost three members to violence in KwaZulu-Natal in the past year, is concerned that the KZN taxi war might be moving to Gauteng.
This follows last month's kidnapping and murder of a founder-member of the Johannesburg Pretoria Mabopane Taxi Association by people purporting to be police officers.
Makhosonke Philemon Mpongose, 47, of Helpmekaar in Ladysmith, KZN, and senior member of the JPM Taxi Association's management committee, became the second member in the same taxi association to have been killed in about seven months. The first was Anthony Mpongose, 40, who was killed in Helpmekaar last year.
Mpongose was led from his home by two men who identified themselves as police officers, after convincing his family that they were taking him to Durban police station for questioning on March 22.
His bullet-riddled body was found by a passerby in the veld near Helpmekaar police station the next morning.
Two suspects, allegedly from a rival taxi group, were arrested and appeared separately in the Dundee Magistrate's Court on a charge of murder.
They are expected to apply for bail today.
Spokesman for the JPM taxi association Joe Sibanyoni and the Mpongose family called on the court not to grant the suspects bail in order to avoidfurther killings.
The deceased's younger brother, Themba Mpongose, said: "We are living in fear for our lives and should they be granted bail, they will continue with the killings of those disagreeing with them."
Meanwhile, Sibanyoni said they were deeply saddened by the loss of a founder and senior member of the management committee of the association.
He said the incident had instilled fear in the members and that the "perpetrators may export the KZN taxi war to Gauteng. If they are kept in prison, the kidnappings and killings of our members would stop".
The spokesman, who described his association as standing for peace and had respect for the laws of the country, fellow operators and customers, insisted hat the suspects should remain in custody for the sake of peace in the industry.
He congratulated the police on their investigative work that resulted in the arrest of the alleged killers.