Taxi violence robs people of loved ones

23 September 2019 - 10:21
By Mpumzi Zuzile

Rabbie Mokoena has lost two brothers to taxi violence - one was killed "out of jealousy" in a hail of bullets, while the other is in hiding, fearing for his life, after being shot four times.

"My brother was killed for his principles ... He ensured taxi owners abide by the rules and stick to their allocated routes," Rabbie told Sowetan's sister publication Times Select.

Ngaka Mokoena, 42, of Sebokeng, Zone 3, died in a hail of bullets when he was shot 16 times at a petrol station in Vereeniging in June.

The father of three was a secretary of the Evaton West Taxi Association when he was gunned down.

Rabbie blamed internal taxi politics for his brother's death. "My brother's problems started when he was elected into the association's leadership. Jealousy also played a role in his killing," said Rabbie.

Rabbie said another Mokoena brother, Kopano, was in hiding after he was shot four times about a month ago.

"They want him dead because he spoke to police."

Rabbie said police had not made any arrests and had not updated them on the progress of his brother's case. "The police must just come to me, and I will give them all the information about my brother's killing," he said.

Another taxi driver's widow, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she and her two children were living in fear as they suspected her husband's killers might come back and kill them.

"It's now been two months since he was killed and no one has been arrested."

She said her husband was killed while offloading passengers in Centurion. Two men came from behind and shot her husband seven times.

Last week, 12-year-old Rethabile Rapuleng succumbed to head injuries in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg, on Thursday morning, after being caught in crossfire linked to taxi association rivalry.

She had been waiting at the Izibuko Primary School in Katlehong to see a friend when gunmen opened fire.

Hundreds of taxi operators, drivers and passengers have been killed in taxi-related violence in Gauteng in the past five years, prompting premier David Makhura to appoint a commission of inquiry.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, 140 people were killed in taxi violence in Gauteng alone, taking the figure to more than 520 in the past five years.

The commission of inquiry will be chaired by justice Jeremiah Buti Shongwe, with Rudolph Lungile Mabece and Hlula Msimang as members of the commission. Dimakatso Mamiki Selesho has been appointed as secretary.

Makhura said the commission would investigate the underlying causes and people behind the ongoing killings in the taxi industry in the province.

Transport and roads MEC Jacob Mamabolo recently blamed law enforcement agencies for the ongoing taxi violence.

"If we had sufficient and efficient law enforcement agencies, we would not be having this commission. So this commission must tell us if there is a syndicate working with police to ensure that these killings are not resolved," Mamabolo said.

The latest police statistics showed there had been 321 taxi violence murders in the country. Gauteng leads with 140, followed by Western Cape with 103 murders and KwaZulu-Natal with 50 murders.

Makhura has given the commission six months to complete its work and submit its report and recommendations in writing.