Taxi murder: arrests expected soon

2011-05-04 00:00

ARRESTS are imminent following the shooting of a taxi boss in Gamalakhe township just outside Margate last month. The incident sounded alarm bells for police, putting them on high alert for possible retaliation after several months of peace in the area.

Gamalakhe Taxi Association secretary Bongani Xolo (50) was shot three times in the head at close range outside his house. Police are trying to establish if there was more than one shooter.

According to Margate police spokesperson Captain Gerald Mfeka, police are on the alert for any subsequent incidents since taxi violence is not uncommon in the area.

“Bambanani and Gamalakhe have a long-standing taxi feud, which remained subdued for a long time. Although there is no evidence that the shooter is from a rival taxi association, we are exercising every precaution,” said Mfeka.

The Witness spoke to Bambanani Taxi Association chairperson Albert Mzelema, who quashed any rumour that members of his association were responsible for Xolo’s murder.

“Xolo and I served on [committees at] provincial level for many years and often when there was a problem, we would go in together as mediators. I have reason to believe that whoever is responsible for the murder was from his association,” Mzelema said.

Mzelema added that community members should not take the law into their own hands, since he is certain the shooter is known to them.

“Give the police a chance to make an arrest, I am sure they will play their part,” he said.

Last year it was reported that taxi violence was steadily decreasing due to proactive responses by the Transport Department, the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) and the police, after a meeting held in Uvongo.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu addressed stakeholders from the local taxi community in the presence of local dignitaries and politicians.

Mchunu informed the taxi associations from Gamalakhe and Bambanani that steps had been put in place to ensure that any further deviations from the law would result in serious action being taken on the part of authorities — even if it meant banning taxis from operating.

This stern warning from the MEC was followed by a week-long operation that saw the police work together with the RTI and Protection Services, conducting checks on work permits, route permits, unroadworthy vehicles and overloading of taxis.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid says that while the initiative helped to curb taxi violence, it was unclear whether any further activity can be expected.

Wiid emphasised that the police force will continue to do their best to keep a tight lid on any outbreaks of taxi violence on the South Coast.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact them on 082 331 0985.

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