Taxi bosses ambushed

2015-01-15 00:00

A QUIET neighbourhood in Stanger erupted into a war zone yesterday as hitmen and security guards protecting taxi bosses conducted a vicious gun battle.

A six-vehicle cavalcade transporting Maphumulo Taxi Association bosses along with their seven heavily armed guards drove into an ambush at a T-junction in Stanger Manor.

At least 15 men — dressed in construction-issue blue overalls and hard hats — were lying in wait, wielding AK47s and R5 rifles.

Over 140 casings were found at the corner of Primrose and Willow roads in the aftermath, along with three men dead, including Maphumulo Taxi Association chairperson “Ten Ten” Ngiba, while one guard was injured.

Sources have confirmed that at least one suspect was arrested when he admitted himself to a hospital with gunshot wounds and that the getaway car, a BMW X5, was found abandoned in Darnall.

While police would not state that the attack was taxi-related, bosses from the Maphumulo Taxi Association have blamed their arch rivals, the KwaDukuza Taxi Association — with whom they have a long and well-documented dispute over the rights to operate certain routes, as the culprits.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay ­Naicker said: “It is still too early to speculate on the motive for the attack. We have called in reinforcements from the surrounding police stations into the ­KwaDukuza area to assist in stabilising the area and to discourage further occurrences of this nature.”

But Transport MEC Willies Mchunu expressed “grave concerns over the ­alleged taxi-related shooting incident” and admitted that the violence was most likely linked to the dispute between the two associations.

He said the provincial government would not rest until the violence in KwaDukuza/Maphumulo was addressed.

Just last week he addressed the two associations over curbing the increasing violence after Muzi Mhlongo, a member of the KwaDukuza taxi association’s executive, was killed on New Year’s Eve.

“We condemn in the strongest­ ­possible terms incidents of shootings and the killing of people,” the MEC said.

The Hawks were combing the scene yesterday, sifting for clues.

Yellow beacons dotted the road while a purple Uno used by Maphamulo taxi bosses and riddled with bullets remained parked on the road with the radio still playing. A white Toyota Sprinter had rammed into a wall, with the body of an alleged attacker lodged partially underneath. His wallet, once opened by police, revealed a bundle of R200 notes.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said the “Maphumulo guys” used the same route every day at the same time. “We were dodging bullets. It is a miracle no resident was shot,” he said.

There were rumours that the dead attacker was executed after the gunfight, and police said an autopsy would reveal if he was shot at close range.

Three murder cases, one of attempted murder and one inquest docket were opened at Stanger police station.

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