Taximan’s family flee in fear

2008-07-14 00:00

AN Mpumalanga township family have been forced to flee the Hammarsdale area, and relocate the funeral of a taxi-owning relative who was gunned down last week, following a spate of taxi violence that has left six people dead in recent weeks.

Allegations that there is a hit list of certain taxi owners are rife in the area.

The family, who left their home at the weekend, will move the funeral to Durban or Pietermaritzburg to avoid being attacked again. This comes after the death of taxi owner Pat Mncwabe, who was shot several times at his home on the evening of July 9.

Family members have allegedly received several phone calls warning them to leave the area or face being attacked.

The Witness understands that Mncwabe’s death follows a feud over taxi operations in the area.

“We had planned to conduct the funeral on Saturday, but police delayed the postmortem, which forced us to postpone it to next Saturday. We wanted to have the funeral before this violence becomes serious,” said a family member who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

“Over the weekend the situation became even more dangerous. We have received threatening calls and one of us escaped being killed by running to the police station after a group of people shot at his taxi. This is a clear sign to us that we must leave the area and the funeral be moved out of the area.”

Mncwabe, who owned three taxis, and his son were busy fencing his yard when two men arrived, pretending to be looking for a taxi driving job. One of them said he had just been released from prison and was desperate for an income.

They asked for Mncwabe, but his son told them he was away. He told the men to go to the Mpumalanga Taxi Association offices to ask for a job.

“They walked away, but before they reached the gate, they turned back and fired about seven shots at Mncwabe. They drove off in a Toyota Camry. He died at the clinic,” said the relative.

Mpumalanga was previously the scene of taxi violence between two local associations fighting over the route between Pinetown and the township.

Mncwabe’s nephew, Vusi Mncwabe, said the violence is between members of the association and a group calling themselves “Amablamane”, who want their taxis to operate in the area.

The Witness understands Mncwabe’s murder sparked retaliation attacks over the weekend. A member of Amablamane, Bonga Ngubane, was gunned down on Saturday, while Vusumuzi Shozi, believed to belong to Mncwabe’s side, was killed in a local shop on Sunday afternoon.

Last month, Sthembiso Khanyile was shot dead while travelling in his minibus taxi in the area.

Police spokeswoman Daniela Veldhuizen confirmed the attacks, and added that three people were seriously injured during the two attacks over the weekend.

There have been no arrests.

bhans@witness.co.za

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