Taxi feud turns deadly

2017-10-31 13:57
One of the minibus taxis that were torched in Edendale as taxi violence flared up on the weekend.

One of the minibus taxis that were torched in Edendale as taxi violence flared up on the weekend. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Two people were killed and four minibus taxis torched as feuding between Edendale operators flared up at the weekend and on Monday morning.

Plessislaer police spokesperson Captain Musa Ntombela said the shootings occurred at about 7 pm on Sunday in Edendale.

Taxi driver Siyabonga Khanyile and Mlungisi Hadebe were killed in a minibus, allegedly by gunmen in a vehicle that pulled up alongside them.

Ntombela said Khanyile was shot in the head while Hadebe had gunshot wounds to his body. Police are investigating charges of murder.

On Monday morning taxi drivers from the Edendale/Esigodini Taxi Association blockaded Moses Mabhida Road, bringing rush hour traffic to a standstill for hours.

Thousands of motorists were forced to find alternative routes to get to work and school as the taxi operators burned tyres and hurled stones at motorists.

Ntombela said the drivers who were protesting said they feared for their safety following the two murders.

According to residents in the area, the taxi drivers blockaded the main road leading to town from 5 am on Monday.

Pupils who attend schools in the Edendale area were also unable to enter the area as all the roads were blocked.

A KZN Education spokesperson said matriculants at schools in Edendale were able to get to school on time to write their examinations.

Resident Mondli Mkhize said he and his wife left home at about 6 am but were blocked by burning tyres.

“We were prevented from getting to work. My family does not own any taxis. It is unfair that the taxi dispute is negatively impacting us,” he said.

Residents said two of the taxis were torched in Smero while the other two were burned in Edendale.

Ntombela said no one was arrested during the protest.

One of the owners of the taxis that were torched blamed the police for not arresting the culprits.

The taxi violence between the two associations operating in the area began after the illegal operators allegedly started their own taxi association.

The Edendale-Esigodini Taxi Association is recognised as the legitimate operator in the area.

But the community of Esigodini insisted on forming its own taxi association, which is not registered with the Department of Transport.

KZN Community Safety spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said: “The illegal operators need to understand that as the department we cannot issue them with operating licences because an association already exists in the area.”

Mntungwa said the department had intensified law enforcement on the ground to ensure the safety of the public.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi violence

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