Key taxi man shot dead in drive-by

2013-01-09 00:00

A KEY figure in the Folweni taxi sector was shot dead and four others were seriously injured in a drive-by shooting yesterday.

Sithembiso Sithole (40) was in a silver-grey Volkswagen Golf 5 at the Folweni taxi rank when gunmen in a black sedan pulled up alongside him at about 6.40 pm and opened fire.

Sithole was killed and two occupants in his car were injured. Two women bystanders were also shot and are in a serious condition in hospital.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the motive behind the shooting is unknown, but it is strongly suspected to be related to the industry, as Sithole was a well-known member of the Folweni Taxi Association.

Mdunge said the suspects were still at large. Cases of murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property had been opened.

A provincial taxi violence task team, known as the Public Transport Enforcement Unit, has been appointed to help in the investigations.

Folweni is no stranger to taxi-related violence. In September last year, Sakhephi Mark Mkhize (59), a taxi operator in Folweni, was shot dead at Isipingo taxi rank, south of Durban. During a taxi demonstration in Folweni in February, 14-year-old Mxolisi Buthelezi was fatally injured by a stray bullet.

Yesterday’s murder has shocked the community.

Said Bafana Mhlongo, general secretary of the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance: “We can’t resolve problems with violence. We always tell associations that when there are disputes, there are structures in place, and the government is always willing to help with those disputes.

“We seriously condemn this killing. It tarnishes the image of the taxi industry. It allows people to think we are thugs. We want them [yesterday’s perpetrators] arrested …”

Willies Mchunu, KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC, appealed for calm and denounced the slaying of Sithole.

He said the department would seek to achieve peace in the industry through negotiated peace settlements.

“This is unacceptable and causes instability in the taxi industry,” he added.

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