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Slain KZN taxi boss survived a hit just a month ago

Gun Free SA has called for stricter laws.
Gun Free SA has called for stricter laws.

A month ago‚ taxi boss Muzi Ngobese survived 16 gunshots. But on Tuesday‚ despite hiring armed guards to be by his side at all times‚ he was not so lucky.

Ngobese‚ the deputy chairman of the Klipriver Taxi Association‚ was killed near Ladysmith when gunmen ambushed the vehicle he‚ his daughter‚ two bodyguards and a driver were travelling in. This resulted in the driver losing control and crashing into another vehicle‚ killing five teachers.

A taxi conflict over routes is believed to have sparked the shooting.

Warren Julie‚ owner of Taxi Violence Unit VIP Protection‚ said that about five weeks ago‚ five Klipriver Taxi Association members were shot. Three were killed and two hospitalised. These attacks came within a week and half of each other. “We placed bodyguards for two clients following the attack on their lives‚” said Julie.

He said that on Tuesday two bodyguards and a driver had fetched Ngobese and his daughter‚ believed to be in her 30s‚ from his home. Shortly afterwards they came under attack.

“They were ambushed along a long windy road‚ from the back‚ side and front. The driver lost control and crashed into a taxi. This was the finalisation of a hit‚” said Julie.

Attempts to contact the taxi association were unsuccessful‚ with various people picking up the company phone simply refusing to talk.

Julie said the situation was very tense in the area. “It is all about routes and route permits‚” he said.

Julie said‚ from his experience as a bodyguard company protecting [taxi] owners and associations for 21 years‚ more people have started calling for protection. “There is definitely a problem in the province’s taxi industry‚” said Julie.

Thabisho Molelekwa‚ spokesman for the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco)‚ said they condemn the tendency to resolve a dispute with gun violence. He confirmed that the attack stemmed from the issue of routes between two taxi associations.

“It is a matter that has been happening for some time. The leadership in the province needs to visit Ladysmith and bring both associations to try and find a solution to the issue of the routes. What is regrettable is that in the crossfire 10 lives were lost. This is what worries us at Santaco. Internal conflict cannot result in the loss of innocent lives. When it affects commuters it’s a serious problem. We condemn the tendency to resolve a dispute through the barrel of a gun. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong‚ it cannot be with a gun‚” said Molelekwa.

He said at the time of the incident the association’s regional members were in Newcastle‚ resolving a conflict involving the taxi and bus industry. “At the centre of the conflict was the issue of routes‚” said Molelekwa.

The provincial taxi task team has been instructed to probe yesterday’s mass shooting‚ said police spokesman Colonel Thembeka Mbhele. No arrests have been made.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango‚ said the killings highlighted the need for proper policing.

“The use of violence to resolve disputes about taxi permits and routes is outrageous and the perpetrators must be found‚ convicted and sent to prison for life. What makes the killings extremely distressing is the death of six innocent people who were just going about their daily tasks. These people were not guilty of any wrongdoing and yet they have been lost to their families‚” said Mncwango.

Mncwango called on the perpetrators of the violence as well as the Klipriver Taxi Association to take responsibility for the families and funerals of the innocent people who lost their lives.


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