Plessislaer: taxi boss assassinated

2011-05-05 00:00

BRAZEN gunmen shot and killed a taxi owner right outside a police station in Pietermaritzburg yesterday evening.

The death of Nhlanhla Ngidi (51) is believed to be a taxi-related assassination.

Ngidi, whose purple double-storey house is next door to the Plessislaer police station, was attacked on arrival at home at about 7.30 pm.

His two minibus taxis operate between the CBD and the Snathing area of Edendale.

He was shot soon after he had parked his truck, which he hires out for delivery purposes. It is believed that the gunmen opened a passenger door and shot him at close range before they fled the scene. He died soon after. Police said his firearm and wallet were not stolen.

Neighbours said they heard the shooting and found Ngidi seated in his vehicle dying from gunshot wounds to his body.

Ngidi is the elder brother of Durban-based advocate Comfort Ngidi, who defended playwright Mbongeni Ngema in his 2002 amandiya hate speech trial.

The Witness was told that Ngidi had made a number of enemies among Snathing taxi owners.

Said a taxi driver, “He was a no-nonsense man. He hardly shared jokes with people and there were very few people he got along with.”

A source said Snathing taxi owners were against Ngidi’s two 22-seat Mercedes Benz minibus taxis operating on their route.

“His murder might have something to do with the fact that he was planning to introduce a third big taxi,” said another source.

The chairperson of Snathing Taxi Association, Mandla Xaba, denied that Ngidi had differences with other taxi owners.

“His vehicles were registered and he operated without any problems,” said Xaba.

On being told of the attack, Comfort Ngidi rushed to the scene from Durban to find a large number of police officers there. He welcomed the rapid police reaction.

“We cannot blame police for not reacting quickly after hearing gunshots. In a township situation there are always sporadic gunshots, and we cannot expect police to react every time they hear a gunshot.”

He appealed to his brother’s close associates to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.

Nhlanhla Ngidi, who left the teaching profession for the taxi business about 15 years ago, leaves three adult children who work in the motor industry in Richards Bay and Malawi.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said no one has yet been arrested.

She appealed to anyone who might have information about the murder to call Crime Stop toll free at 08600 10111.

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