Taxi owner: attempt on my life left two teenagers dead

2011-06-13 00:00

KRANSKOP-BORN taxi owner Mdumiseni Patrick Jali, who owns taxis operating in Johannesburg under the banner of the Alexander Taxi Association, escaped two attempts on his life near Kranskop in December 2006.

The second ambush claimed the lives of two teenagers who minutes earlier had asked him for a lift to the main road, the high court in Pietermaritzburg heard on Thursday.

Jali gave evidence before Acting Judge K.Q. Hadebe and two assessors yesterday at the trial of five men charged with the murders of the two teenagers, Nokuthula Bhengu (15) and Cebisile Xakaza (17), and six counts of attempted murder of Jali, his mother, Sholiphi, Thandeka Nyezi, Bongiwe Ngubane and Thembekile (also known as Basolile) Ndlela.

Heavily armed task force members were stationed outside and inside the courtroom to ensure the safety of the court during the proceedings yesterday.

The five accused — Mndeni Nala (31), Bhani Ngubane (41), Sipho Ngubane (45), Thula Ngubane (36) and Sukumani Ngubane (27) — pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected to remain silent.

The state alleges in its indictment that Jali and Bhani Ngubane were both members of the Alexander Taxi Association during 2006 and that Ngubane was suspended from the organisation some time prior to the incident.

Ngubane allegedly believed Jali had played a part in his suspension and he and his co-accused decided to kill him.

The indictment alleges that following a failed attempt to kill Jali on December 23, 2006, the Ngubane brothers approached Nala and Thembinkosi Mjobo and hired them to kill Jali in exchange for payment of R30 000.

Jali testified yesterday that he had recognised Bhani Ngubane as one of the two gunmen who opened fire on him in the first attack, which he survived in the Kranskop area on December 23, 2006. He was wounded in the thigh and right knee.

When he was ambushed for the second time just days later — on December 31, 2006 — he testified the he had recognised the four Ngubanes as being among the assailants.

Jali said it was a “beautiful and sunny day” as he set off to travel to Kranskop from his parental home accompanied by his mother, his two wives and a female neighbour.

En route he gave a lift to the two girls who pleaded with him to take them to the main road as there was no transport available.

A short distance further on, as he slowly approached a dip and a bend in the narrow road, six gunmen appeared and opened fire on him with rifles.

Jali said he did not stop even though he realised that the other people in the car had been shot and that Cebisile and Nokuthula were dead. He intended to take the survivors to hospital, but a short while later the vehicle came to a halt when the engine burned out as a result of the radiator having been shot and drained of water.

The case is proceeding.

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