Security team to probe taxi wars

A TECHNICAL committee made up of the top brains from law enforcement agencies, including the State Security Department, has been set up to deal with taxi violence incidents in KwaZulu-Natal.

This was announced yesterday by MEC for transport Willies Mchunu.

Mchunu's announcement comes after the killing of taxi owner and Chesterville Taxi Association chairperson Phelelani Kingdom Mngomezulu.

Mngomezulu was shot dead in Chesterville last week Tuesday by unknown attackers.

The latest assassination follows similar killings of high-ranking taxi operators from Umlazi, Nongoma, Mpumalanga and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

"Though the policy thrust of engagement will continue, we need the full might of the state to descend on the taxi industry so that anarchy can be stopped," Mchunu said.

"Unfortunately engagements alone have proved inadequate in an industry racked by fear, mistrust and the lust for blood."

Mchunu said the team would look at intelligence capacity, early warning systems, improving arrests and prosecution levels.

"It will also look at the role of izinkabi (hitmen) in the industry, the need for a legislative framework and securing taxi ranks during conflicts," he said.

"The team will also investigate the possible banning of security firms at taxi ranks.

"The aim of the strategy is to support the industry and make it thrive."

Mchunu said the team was expected to report back to him before March next year.

"If we deal firmly with taxi-related violence we might in fact be reducing the trio crimes of business and house robberies and murder rapidly."

KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance president George Ferror welcomed the move, saying it was long overdue.

Taxi violence has claimed over 50 lives in the province since 2007.