Taxi rank shooting: 5 suspects in court

2018-06-04 16:00
Police speak to the security guards for the Howick Zimele Taxi Association in Boshoff Street on Friday.

Police speak to the security guards for the Howick Zimele Taxi Association in Boshoff Street on Friday. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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Five suspects arrested in connection with Friday’s deadly taxi rank shooting will appear on Monday at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

The five were arrested following a shoot-out over a route dispute which claimed the life of a bystander. Reports that a commuter caught in the crossfire had died in hospital could not be confirmed on Sunday.

Police on Sunday named the bystander who died as Thulasizwe Ngubane (35). He died at the scene when security guards linked to Howick’s Zimele Taxi Association exchanged gunshots with operators at the Masukwana taxi rank.

The two associations have been feuding over routes for almost a decade. In 2011, the dispute claimed the life of taxi operator Bhekizitha Dlamini (30), who was shot and killed in Masukwana after a confrontation between operators of the two associations.

Although taxi operators said two people had died during Friday’s shooting, police Captain Nqobile Gwala could only confirm Ngubane’s death.

“Three victims sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for medical attention after the shooting at a taxi rank,” she said.

A taxi operator said an elderly woman had also been hit by a stray bullet. “She was in a taxi that was going to Mnambithi. The driver drove off after she had been shot and stopped at a garage. Paramedics took her to Northdale Hospital but she died there,” said the operator, who asked not to be named.

The taxi operators held a marathon meeting with MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, after Friday’s shooting. “The MEC made it clear that the department will consider shutting down the route if instability continues,” said the department’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mtungwa.

“For now operations will continue as normal and police will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

Friday’s incident started off when local operators blocked Boshoff Street in protest against Howick operators, who they said did not have permission to pick passengers up at Boshoff Street.

Armed security guards linked to Howick operators tried to force local operators to move taxis that they had used to block the road.

With matters threatening to get out of hand, police intervened and the armed guards left for Masukwana taxi rank. A confrontation ensued between the armed guards and local operators and several shots were fired.

A car belonging to the security company was torched.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi violence

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