PMB taxi owner gunned down

2016-06-24 10:52


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Pietermaritzburg - A Copesville taxi owner was gunned down and his girlfriend wounded at their home early on Thursday morning.

The attack comes amid an ongoing feud between illegal and legal taxi operators in the area, who are believed to be fighting over routes for the Ezinkethini area — a township near Copesville.

Four men kicked down the door of the Scania Crescent home at about 1.30 am yesterday, and opened fire on the 27-year-old taxi owner.

His girlfriend (23) sustained wounds in the buttocks and arm. She is believed to be in a stable condition at a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

Police would not release the name of the taxi owner, and it is believed the case docket would be handed over to a specialised police unit from Durban commissioned to deal with matters in the taxi industry.

“The men fled the scene with two cellphones. Charges of murder, house robbery and attempted murder were opened at Mountain Rise police station,” said KZN police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Shooz Magudulela.

According to police sources, neighbours and members of the taxi association, who all corroborated the information, there was a heated argument between the taxi owner and members of the taxi industry — both legal and illegal operators — who attended a meeting with police earlier this week to resolve the dispute in the area.

The sources said the gunmen broke into an outbuilding on the property before entering the taxi owner’s home.

The four men, two of whom wore balaclavas and carried a shotgun and a pistol, beat the tenant with the butt of a gun while asking where her husband was.

They took her two cellphones and made a bee-line for the main house when she responded that she was unmarried.

After breaking through the door, the men confronted the taxi owner and his girlfriend, who were believed to be watching television at the time.

It is alleged one gunman asked his accomplice to confirm the identity of the taxi owner and then opened fire, shooting off about 10 rounds.

The taxi owner’s father refused to comment or release his son’s name to the media.

The Witness reported that a legal taxi driver was assaulted by a group of illegal operators at the taxi rank near Asmalls on Monday this week.

The incident triggered a protest by taxi drivers who refused to return to work, saying they felt intimidated.

The drivers vowed to stop operating until their safety was assured.

Yesterday’s shooting comes after the legal taxi operators brought in a private security company, believed to be heavily armed, for protection.

One, who would not be named, said on Wednesday that although the security company had been hired, they still feared for their lives.

“We still maintain that the illegals should stop operating, but that is going to cost many lives.”

The police warned the security company and taxi bosses to operate within the confines of the law.

Anyone with information on the murder is urged to contact the Mountain Rise duty officer at 079 500 1269, or station commander Brigadier Boxer Pillay at 082 418 2018.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  shooting  |  taxi

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