How the ripple following the brutal KZN taxi slaying is playing out in Gauteng
It is about 10am in Ivory Park‚ the taxi rank is busy and commuters are coming in and out en masse in this Johannesburg township.
It is Monday morning‚ just 48 hours after 10 drivers from this association were gunned down in an ambush in KwaZulu-Natal. As usual‚ drivers from the Ivory Park Taxi Association wear ties – but while they look good in their formal neckwear‚ their eyes are flitting all over the place because none of them seem to know what could have been the motive behind the brutal slaying of their colleagues.
In total‚ 12 people were killed in the ambush.
The Tiso Blackstar crew waited outside a small office at the taxi rank while an official responsible for the operations at the rank spoke to one of the bereaved families. The man tried to look calm‚ but his feelings ultimately got the better of him.
When he realised that it was journalists in his office‚ he then called the deputy chairperson of the Ivory Park taxi association‚ who instructed him not to allow interviews with families. Instead‚ we were sent to the association’s head office in Midrand.
Three women from one of the bereaved families were asked to leave and wait for a call in case the head office allows interviews.
The Tiso Blackstar crew then moved to the Midrand office where the chairperson of the Ivory Park Taxi Association‚ Johannes Mkonza‚ would meet us. On arrival‚ Mkonza was not there but it was his deputy‚ Sam Sibisi‚ who gave a warm welcome.
An unidentified man stood guard‚ watching all the comings and goings in the parking lot where taxi bosses leave their vehicles.
Sibisi explained that Mkonza would be coming soon but there was little the taxi association knew about the shooting.
A few minutes later‚ Mkonza arrived in a BMW. He was being escorted by the Saps’ Tactical Response Unit in their usual armour.
When Mkonza arrived‚ the kind and warm Sibisi immediately left and rushed to his car. He grabbed his gun‚ placed it around his waist and then put on a jacked to cover it. When he realised that we saw him‚ he said that the current situation warrants him to arm himself.
Inside the boardroom‚ Mkonza was calm and collected - but kept on being interrupted by calls on one of his two cellphones.
“We don’t have any conflict with anyone. There is no route dispute with any association. We are not fighting with anyone. Why our drivers were ambushed‚ we are still trying to figure it out‚” he said.
When we alerted him that hundreds of bullets were used in the shooting‚ Mkonza said: ““At the back of my mind I’m thinking that maybe this vehicle was mistaken for another care in KZN‚ that was in a conflict there.”
At the time of the interview‚ Mkonza said he had not been contact by neither the Hawks nor the police investigating the shooting.
A taxi ferrying mostly drivers from a funeral in KwaZulu-Natal was ambushed by gunmen along the R74 road between Colenso and Weenen on Saturday night. Eleven people died when the vehicle was sprayed with bullets. Another died later in hospital. A total of 10 of those killed were taxi drivers from Ivory Park.
When Mkonza was asked if he had beefed up his security‚ he replied: “I should because I don’t know what is happening. I have just asked police to come bring me here. But I must limit my movement until we get to the bottom of this thing.”
Their killing sent shocking waves across the nation. National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole activated specialised units to track down and arrest the gunmen‚ giving them a deadline of 72 hours to do so.