Kokstad taxi war accused denied bail

2009-01-01 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday refused bail to five Eastern Cape taxi operators accused of the murder of a rival and attempted murders of two other operators from Kokstad.

Judge Kevin Swain, who dismissed the accuseds’ appeal against the refusal of bail by the Kokstad Magistrate’s Court, said he was not convinced that bail conditions he might impose would be observed by the accused bec ause they had taken part in a shoot-out against Kokstad taxi operators in the presence of policemen on the N2 highway near the Eastern Cape border.

Swain said the taxi wars are a scourge and state counsel advocate Ian Cooke said the wars invariably harm innocent communters caught in the crossfire.

Cooke said the release of the accused might endanger public peace, noting that the proceedings in the magistrate’s court were coloured by threats of violence and reprisal. For the sake of safety, certain people were excluded from the Kokstad court. When the accused were refused bail they asked not to be detained in Kokstad, saying they feared they would be poisoned. They are in custody in Port Shepstone.

Accused of the murder of Xolani Mhlawuli of Kokstad and attempted murder of two of his associates wounded in the shoot-out in October, Musa Madumela and Eloyi Chiya, are Sibongiseni Mhlungu (35), Mongezi Ntshamba (50), Thulani Mdiya (32), Zwelidumile Nomda (34) and Bhekokwakhe Qasha (38), all of Mount Ayliff.

According to the indictment, there was a dispute about taxi routes between the Kokstad and Mount Aliff taxi assocations. Mhlawuli had been charged in the Mount Ayliff court for an offence against a Mount Ayliff man, but the charge was withdrawn, which infuriated the five accused and other members of the Mount Ayliff association.

It is allaeged that they decided to seek revenge and lay in wait for Mhlawuli’s party, which was being escorted back to Kokstad.

Near the KZN-Eastern Cape border, the Mount Ayliff men attacked Mhlawuli’s party, shooting the three Kokstad victims. They also allegedly stole the vehicle which the Kokstad men had used.

No date has been fixed for the hearing, which is likely to be heard in Ramsgate High Court.

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