Taxi shooting: Call for calm

2009-09-24 00:00

THE Msunduzi Regional Taxi Council has appealed for calm among taxi passengers after a driver and a passenger were shot in Chota Motala (Old Greytown) Road opposite Forest Hill Primary School yesterday morning by two unknown assailants in an apparent ambush.

The taxi council said passengers should not panic as the incident is not related to disputes over taxi routes.

Taxi driver Welcome Mkhize (34) died in hospital after the shooting, while passenger Nokuthula Shelembe (35) was hospitalised and listed in a serious but stable condition late yesterday.

Mkhize was apparently picking up passengers at a bus stop when they were shot.

His taxi was riddled with bullets — it had 12 bullet entry points visible in its front. The side windows were shattered and there was a blood trail on the road leading from the driver’s seat to a bus shelter.

By mid-morning, it was still parked in the road and cordoned off as police collected evidence. A small group stood across the street watching.

According to eyewitnesses, two men shot at Mkhize just as he stopped to pick up his passengers, and then fled on foot. Police believe a getaway car was parked nearby.

Boy Zondi, chairman of the Msunduzi Regional Taxi Council and the PRO of the KZN Taxi Council, expressed shock, but said passengers should “be calm” as the shooting is an isolated incident that is not related to disputes over routes.

“The information available about the incident suggests that the driver was the target.”

Zondi expressed his concern about an increase in shootings in the taxi industry. “For a long time in Pietermaritzburg we have never had this issue of killing in the taxi industry, and now people who have problems with each other shoot at taxis and it makes the taxis look bad.”

The owner of the taxi, Oscar Anderson, was puzzled by the incident. He said Mkhize, whom he described as a “good driver”, had never reported anything to him that might explain yesterday’s incident.

“He had worked for me for 10 years and was a good driver. He was popular and well liked by many people,” said Anderson.

This is not the first taxi-related shooting in Pietermaritzburg this year.

In February, three supposed members of the Long-Distance Taxi Association were shot and killed in Church Street by unknown gunmen. And two weeks ago, a metered taxi driver shot and killed two taxi operators after a dispute over passengers in the Masukwane taxi rank.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said no arrests have been made and a special task team has been set up in the organised crime unit to investigate the shooting.

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