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Taxi hitmen 'target' Cele

By unknown | Feb 13, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A high-powered police investigation is under way in KwaZulu-Natal after alleged threats to assassinate ANC national executive committee member and provincial MEC for transport, community safety and liaison Bheki Cele.

It is alleged that rogue elements within the taxi industry in the province are plotting to eliminate Cele, who they regard as a threat to them.

Cele is the political head of the province's transport department and is at the forefront of regulating the taxi industry, which has resulted in him falling out of favour with the industry.

Police spokesman Director Phindile Hadebe confirmed yesterday that they were aware of the threats. Though Hadebe could not elaborate on the extent or the origins of the threats, she said the police were investigating the allegations.

"Yes, I can confirm that assassination threats against Cele have come to our attention, and at this stage I can only say that police are busy investigating."

ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu said the party was shocked by the threats. "We are aware of the threats and we are shocked that there are people with the audacity to go to such an extent of killing a human being, but more shocked by the fact that they would want to kill the MEC," said Mchunu.

Mchunu said he hoped the people plotting to eliminate Cele understood the ramifications of their actions.

The allegations come just a month after Umsinga chief, inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi, was slain in a hail of bullets in Umlazi.

Police have linked his death to taxi feuds as he was instrumental in trying to resolve the taxi disputes in the area of KwaMaphumulo.

After his death, two people, Swayo Mkhize and Sphesihle Maphumulo, were arrested at KwaDukuza taxi rank and are expected to appear in the Umlazi magistrate's court today.

Bongani Mkhize, former chairman of the KwaMaphumulo Taxi Association, was shot dead by the police at Umngeni Road during a shootout with the police. The police had wanted to "question" him.

Mkhize was also linked to the killing of Superintendent Zethembe Chonco in August last year. Chonco was the head of provincial taxi violence task team, and on the day of his murder he was transporting suspects facing charges related to killings in the KwaMaphumulo and KwaDukuza taxi feuds.


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