fear of bloodbath after taxi killings

THE gunning down of two taxi operators has sparked fears of a bloodbath in KwaZulu-Natal.

The attack has prompted the KZN Transport Alliance to call for police intelligence to step in and investigate the shootings.

The call comes after a Port Shepstone taxi owner was killed in a hail of bullets yesterday morning.

Sfundo Mzindle was attacked by a group of people armed with pangas and sticks.

"They smashed his taxi before shooting him and he died on the scene. Twelve people have been taken in for questioning," police spokeperson Captain Thulane Zwane said.

Mzindle's killing comes less than a month after four taxis were stoned in what police believed was a attack linked to a route dispute between the Bambanani and Gamalakhe Taxi associations.

KZN Transport Alliance president Gerald Ferror condemned the killing.

He said the industry was sick and tired of these "senseless killings".

"I want to categorically say that the time for spilling blood is over. Taxi people must learn that this is a business and in business you negotiate.

"We are tired of burying people, leaving orphans and widows.

"In the alliance 40percent of our members are widows. Actually we have more widows than men and this is unacceptable."

Ferror called on MEC for transport and community safety Willies Mchunu, as well as intelligence agencies to intervene.

In another incident Bhamshela Taxi Association chairperson Simon Mkhwanazi died in the Appelsbosch Hospital after being attacked at the area's taxi rank on Wednesday afternoon. He owned three taxis.

Zwane said Mkhwanazi was in his taxi when gunmen in a Mazda pulled up alongside and approached him.

"They just opened fire and fled," he said.

Mkhwanazi was taken to the local hospital where he died on arrival.

Six spent AK-47 and R5 cartridges were found on the scene.

"The motive for the killing wis still unknown and police are investigating," Zwane said.

The Mkhwanazi family spokesperson Alpheus Hlongwane said they were still shocked at the manner in which he was killed.

"Since taking over the reins as chairman more than six years ago, he advocated peace and avoided violence at all costs," Hlongwane said.