'Some police are involved in taxi violence in Gauteng,' commission told

Some police officers are allegedly involved in the crimes
Some police officers are allegedly involved in the crimes
Image: Lebohang Mashiloane

A senior police official has detailed how lack of personnel, disappearance of witnesses and long waits for postmortem results is hindering efforts to conclude cases of violence in the Gauteng taxi industry.

Lt-Col Mohamed Bayat gave evidence before the commission of Inquiry into taxi violence yesterday about the struggles that police face in investigating the killings. Bayat heads the task team that investigates taxi killings in SAPS in the province. 

The commission had earlier assigned retired Lt-Gen Vinesh Moonoo to audit 505 active taxi violence cases from April 2012 to May 2020.

Moonoo found that investigators of taxi violence did not have the required skills of gathering all the evidence they needed at a crime scene.  He found that CCTV footage which could be used in the investigation was not collected on time and so were statements from key witnesses.

“Immediately on the scene, witnesses are afraid [to give information]. They are afraid to talk to the police because they do not know who is around that crime scene."

Bayat said there is a prevailing perception among those who have information in the taxi industry that witnesses get eliminated.

 “You will get incidents where you get a statement, you make an arrest based on it, when it goes to trial the guy refuses to testify,” he said.

Bayat told the commission that even if witness protection is provided, witnesses still refuse to testify. He added that taxi associations whose members are being killed do not want to give information.

He said his team  handles three to four new cases of taxi violence a month. In some of the cases, security companies, hired to protect taxi bosses are involved in the shootings, he said.

He said money gets collected among taxi association members to hire  hitmen.

“Hostels are a hideout for the hitmen. The hitmen come from the hostels. They commit the crimes and go to the hostels,” Bayat said.

Bayat’s team has 12 members with each investigating officer handling 70 cases. This, he said, placed immense pressure on the investigators.

 

"Investigating officers also have to wait for long periods just to get documents such as the postmoterm results and forensic reports.

Bayat’s task team will now become a fully fleshed unit and get a boost of  20 new members which should ease the workload," Bayat  said.

Bayat testified that there were some officers which were involved in the taxi violence.

He mentioned of two constables, one in Brixton and Germiston, who are now serving life sentence for their involvement in taxi killings. Another constable from Johannesburg is awaiting sentence after being involved as a get away driver in a taxi killing.

In his audit Moonoo identified taxi killings hotspots as Johannesburg with 39, Evaton with 34 and Tsakane with 31. The commission noted that over the past few years, Tsakane increased its cases from one a year to one in six months and that increased to one a month.

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