four up for taxi violence

FOUR taxi association members have been ordered to appear before the Nelspruit circuit of the North Gauteng high court for taxi violence-related crimes 10 years ago.

The violence left taxi owners, drivers and commuters dead or injured.

Mfanekile Mamelodi Mbonane, 33, Vuyo Samuel Manganye, 59, Hlabekisa Calvin Lubisi, 47, and Churchill Jones Sihlangu, 38, of the Federated Long and Local Distance Taxi Association (FELLDTA) are expected to appear in the court from August 11 to 21.

They will be charged with murder, attempted murder, pointing of fire arms and illegal possession of machine guns.

The charges date back to 1997 taxi violence between the FELLDTA and South African Long Distance and Local Distance Taxi Association (SALLDTA) in the Bushbuckridge area.

Captain Leonard Hlathi said several people were ambushed and murdered when the two taxi associations got involved in a conflict.

Some of the suspects were arrested at the time but the case did not proceed because of a lack of evidence.

Superintendent Mabina Samuel Mahlangu and Inspector Petros Monkwe of the police organised crime unit in Middelburg took over the investigations in 2003 and managed to crack the cases and obtain statements from possible witnesses.

They discovered that in June 1997 Thulani Reckson Ncube, 30, a taxi owner, Sifiso Learn Ndlovu, 47, a prominent businessman who also owned a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, and Thokozani Mokoena, 47, were killed during the violence.

Taxi driver Obed Mathebula, 29, escaped death when he was shot and left wounded in Bushbuckridge.

"Nearly all the victims were members of the SALLDTA and Mokoena was also an executive member of the Johannesburg Nelspruit Bushbuckridge Taxi Association," Hlathi said .