Taxi 'hitmen' appear in Mbombela court

2013-03-12 19:16

Johannesburg - Three alleged taxi hitmen - Samuel "Vuyo" Manganye, Calvin Lubisi and Mfanufikile "Mamelodi" Mbonani - appeared in the Mbombela Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Justice Elias Matojane postponed the matter to Wednesday for cross-examination, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Manganye, Lubisi and Mbonani have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges that include three counts of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, illegal possession of 9mm pistols and revolvers, illegal possession of AK-47 rifles and ammunition and also pointing of a firearm.

On Tuesday, Michael Grey, 41, who was serving a 27-year jail term in Barberton, told the court he killed more than 20 people during the taxi war that raged in Gauteng and Mpumalanga in the 1990s.

He was testifying against Manganye, Lubisi and Mbonani, who belonged to different taxi associations during the wars.

"I have killed more than 20 people during the shootings and wounded even more. The killings gave me a problem and I decided to report it after my conviction to 27-years-imprisonment with [Kenneth] Nkosi between 1998 and 1999," Grey told the court.

Grey testified he was hired by the then SA Local and Long Distance Taxi Association (SALLDTA) chairperson Lubisi.

He said he came to Mpumalanga from Thembisa to commit armed robberies with his local friends from Marite, outside Hazyview.

Grey testified he asked for a job at Marite Taxi Rank and was instructed to work as a hitman with three other men and Mbonani as the driver.

"We were given firearms that included Z88 9mm pistols, AK-47s and a revolver, all fully loaded.

The guns were organised from Manyeleti and we were given instructions by Lubisi to shoot at Sabta (SA Black Taxi Association) taxis coming from Bushbuckridge to Nelspruit and Johannesburg," he said.

Grey, who came to court under heavy police protection, told the court they were told the war was over routes and that each hitman earned R1 200 for a successful hit.

"We were given different vehicles to use when on a mission, a white Toyota Cressida, a red Opel Monza, a white Mazda Sting, a blue Ford Bantam and a white Toyota Corolla.

"Around 1997 we went to shoot at Sabta taxis in Nelspruit then at Makoko and Acornhoek.

"Afterwards we went back to our bosses to report back and got paid," he testified.

Grey told the court he could not live with the guilt and wanted to come clean.

"After I reported the incidents, I led police to all the places where the scenes took place.

"I also knew about the taxi violence that was taking place in Mamelodi at that time," he said.

Read more on:    mbombela

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