cops find ak-47 in taxi

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Heavily-armed taxi bosses arrested outside Merafe Hostel in Soweto on Monday night were allegedly on their way to hit one of their own.

Sowetan has learnt that members of the Soweto Taxi Services (STS) have for some time being involved in a bitter power struggle over the leadership of the organisation.

The taxi organisation is expected to hold elections for new executive positions in the association in a fortnight.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the possibility that the men were on a mission to eliminate a strong contender for a leadership position.

They were arrested with firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, and a balaclava.

A source within the association said the taxi bosses were planning a hit on a member, but could not divulge the intended victim's identity.

On Monday night police were patrolling the area when they spotted a Toyota Quantum parked near the hostel.

Inside the taxi were seven men, with one wearing a balaclava and a bullet-proof vest.

A further search revealed two licensed pistols, 98 rounds of ammunition and an AK-47 assault rifle with 30 rounds and R3140 in cash. Also parked near the taxi were a green Toyota RunX and a blue BMW M3.

The source also believes that one of the men who did not want to go ahead with the plan decided to inform the police.

"Why would the police just suspect the Quantum and decide to inspect it? They did not know who or what was in there. The police must have known that the men were armed and were prepared," the source said.

Seven of the eight men appeared briefly in the Protea magistrate's court yesterday.

They face charges of possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

Captain Mpande Khoza on Tuesday said the men were allegedly going to attack a member of the association.

The men are: Mdeni Ngwenya, Innocent Dlamini, Nkosenhle Nyembe, Mzindeli Sibisi, also known as Mahlase, Zakheleni Sibisi, Thulubheke Sibisi and Mlungisi Dlamini.

It is still to be established whether they were taxi owners and which associations they belong to, he said.

The men are aged between 30 and 49.

The source also confirmed to Sowetan that Mzindeli Sibisi belongs to STS and is the owner of the Quantum.

The case was postponed to next Wednesday for further investigations.