Shooting sparks fears of taxi wars

2008-10-02 00:00

The shooting of a taxi operator and a pedestrian in Moses Mabhida (Edendale) Road on Wednesday has sparked fears of an outbreak of taxi violence in the Edendale area.

Zwelinjani Madlala (54), a taxi operator, and 45-year-old Mavis Molefe were injured after a taxi boss opened fire on a group of taxi owners affiliated with the Edendale/

Esigodini Taxi Association.

Themba Mweli, the chairman of the Edendale/Esigodini Taxi Association, said the incident happened after members of his association tried to block taxis not registered with the association from operating in the area.

“For almost a year, there have been about six taxis operating in the area without any permits. We reported the matter to the police and other relevant authorities however nothing has been done,” he said.

Mweli said that members of his association, having exhausted all the legal options, on Wednesday decided to block the unregistered taxis from doing business in the area.

“Our members gathered at the intersection in Edendale Road and stopped one of these taxis. The driver of the taxi was cornered, but he ran away and abandoned the vehicle. A few minutes later, the owner of the taxi arrived at the scene and just opened fire on our members,” Mweli told The Witness.

He confirmed that Madlala is a member of the Edendale/Esigodini Taxi Association. According to police, Madlala was shot in the leg and Molefe, a passerby, was hit in the stomach.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said the gunman later handed himself over to the police at Plessislaer police station and was arrested.

Jeevan said police are investigating circumstances regarding the shooting and added that the suspect is expected to appear in court shortly.

Mweli said the situation had returned to normal by yesterday, but expressed fears that there might be an outbreak of violence if the authorities do not ensure that illegal operators are prevented from doing business in the area.

“We are not preventing anyone from doing business; we are saying that they need to follow all the proper channels and apply through the relevant association in the area. We are very concerned about the situation because most of these people who are now operating illegally here come from areas ravaged by taxi violence, such as Hammarsdale,” Mweli said.

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