Taxi violence in city ‘pre-planned’

2018-06-14 17:26
Guards and association met before attack says investigator.

Guards and association met before attack says investigator. (File)

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The taxi-related violence that brought Pietermaritzburg to a standstill two weeks ago was premeditated, an investigator in the matter has testified.

Warrant Officer Vusimuzi Mchunu, a co-investigator in the case, said members of security company GRH Executive Protection and Tactical Services were not provoked, and “just came here and shot”.

Read: Shootout at city taxi rank

This emerged during the bail application of Thembinkosi Vezi, Mzokhona Goge, Siboniso Cele, Thembinkosi Mchunu, Sandile Mabida and Andreas Poswa on Wednesday.

They face 22 charges, including six of attempted murder, four of malicious injury to property and 10 for negligent use of firearms.

Mchunu told the court that security officers and the Howick Taxi Association had a meeting along the N3 freeway near the taxi rank that morning. They then went to the taxi rank and “started to shoot”, he said.

Mchunu said one man was shot dead, two passengers were shot and injured and three bystanders were shot. One is still in critical condition in the ICU at Northdale Hospital, he added.

“Witnesses never mentioned anything that provoked the security guards. They just came here and shot.”

When asked by state prosecutor Rene Padayachee whether they could have been acting in self-defence, Mchunu said: “I would dispute that.

“My investigation has revealed that Howick taxis were removed from the rank and parked on the N3. This was a premeditated shooting.”

He said witnesses and victims had fingered all six accused in identity parades.

But attorney Z. Mabaso, acting on behalf of the six men, said they had been “threatened” by a mob earlier that morning, and they had fired because they had been shot at first.

He said the security guards had noticed taxis had blockaded the N3 freeway and a road leading to the Northdale area.

A mob had threatened drivers and began shooting. The mob then set a taxi alight, said Mabaso.

He said the six later went to Howick police station to explain what happened, and were arrested.

But Mchunu disputed that: “I am not sure why they went to the station … but if they were acting lawfully then they should have waited at the scene for police to come … and not proceed to Howick.”

Mabaso said the six intend on pleading not guilty to all charges, and would not interfere with witnesses as they did not even know who they were.

The bail hearing was adjourned until Friday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi violence

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