They were sent from Ladysmith to kill him – Ladysmith taxi war spills over to Bedfordview

2019-03-26 20:37
Minibus taxis park at a rank in Sandton. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Minibus taxis park at a rank in Sandton. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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A bloody taxi war that has been raging in Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal for more than six years, has spilt over to Bedfordview in Johannesburg.

It has emerged that a shooting in Bedfordview on Sunday night in which two men were killed, was likely the result of taxi violence between the Sizwe Taxi Association and the Klip River Taxi Association.

One of the two men that were gunned down outside the Nissan dealership near Eastgate Shopping Centre at around 19:20 was the brother of the Sizwe association chairperson.

Started in Malvern

"It was one of my family members. My brother that was gunned down there," Sizwe chairperson Mbongiseni Mpungose said.

"They were driving from Jeppestown to Eastgate Mall to fetch his kids. At the robot near Bruma Nissan, they were attacked by a Mercedes Benz and they shot them (sic). One of them... survived the shooting. He's still in hospital but unfortunately my brother, he passed away in that shooting. He died instantly."

Just after 19:00 Mpungose's brother Vincent and another man were driving from Jeppestown through Malvern in a silver Mercedes Benz when gunmen in a second Mercedes Benz opened fire on them. It's believed the occupants of both vehicles exchanged gunfire until they reached the corner of Allum and Cumberland roads in Kensington.

Mpungose was killed while his passenger was wounded and taken to hospital.

One of the men who were in the other car also died on the scene.

He said he was from Sizwe

A South African Police Service (SAPS) flying squad vehicle and a metro police vehicle were first on the scene.

A Bedfordview CPF member who was driving nearby also arrived within minutes.

The CPF member, who asked to remain anonymous, said when he arrived there, two victims were clearly dead.

"There was a passenger that was wounded in the leg in the silver Mercedes and there was someone laying on the pavement and he was clearly deceased. He'd been shot dead and he was lying near the Merc, and there was one lying across the road, also dead."

"Initially, we thought they were all from the same car and then when the wounded one got treated, he explained to the paramedics that he was a passenger and that they'd been chased from Malvern, through Kensington.

"They were cut off and this other vehicle opened fire on them and they had fired back. When he was in the ambulance he said he was from the Sizwe Taxi Association. There were heavy calibre assault rifles used. The car was shot to pieces," said the CPF member.

'Hitmen sent from Ladysmith to kill'

Mbongiseni Mpungose says he has no doubt that the shooting was motivated by the taxi feud.

"He was shot in a taxi-related issue. We could not tell exactly who planned the shooting but I know [Vincent] was killed by other taxi people. I think... it comes from Ladysmith because there is a problem of routes. I think it's a continuous fight from people in Ladysmith so they hired people to come and kill my brother in Johannesburg," says Mpungose.

"I am very, very upset. I can't even tell you how bad it is. I've lost everything."

He also suspects that his brother was murdered in order to send him a message.

"I think he was killed because they wanted to send something to me. I can't tell why, because he wasn't that much involved in [the feuds] with Ladysmith. He was based in Johannesburg. I know that he was killed because of these things in Ladysmith (sic)."

Gauteng police have not confirmed a motive for the shooting but say they are investigating the link to taxi violence.

The bullet-riddled silver Mercedes Benz was registered to VM (Vincent) Mpungose, whose place of residence is listed as Zone 4, Meadowlands in Soweto.

A search on his ID number results in several notifications in Government Gazette publications detailing taxi route applications between Ladysmith and Johannesburg, over recent years.


Ongoing war, dozens of deaths and a court case

Media reports suggest that the fight between the competing organisations has claimed as many as 60 lives since 2014. In December 2017, KZN Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda banned both groups from operating as a result of the violence.

This resulted in the Klip River Association turning to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg last year, supported by three religious organisations.

The ban was lifted pending the outcome of court proceedings.

Klip River was also granted an interim interdict prohibiting members of Sizwe from intimidating their rivals.

The MEC's spokesperson was unaware of the latest shooting in Bedfordview and confirmed that the matter was still before the high court.

In an affidavit authored by Klip River chairperson Bekuyise Masondo, quoted in the Sunday Times last year, he claimed that Sizwe violently edged out his organisation.

"Sizwe initially made use only of its designated routes from Ladysmith to Johannesburg. It attempted and partially succeeded in taking over the route designated to Klip River by unlawful tactics and by trying to outmuscle it," he says.

He goes on to argue that the situation reached boiling point when the secretary of Klip River and nine others were all shot and killed, forcing the entire executive to go underground, allowing Sizwe to assume control of the routes.

In July last year, gunmen opened fire on a Toyota Quantum travelling along the R74 between Colenso and Weenen, near Ladysmith.

The occupants were returning from the funeral of a Gauteng taxi operator near Greytown.

Eleven people were killed.

But Sizwe's Mapungose has denied that his members are behind the violence and has appealed to government officials to step in.

"I would like to ask the government to intervene so it could [provide] a solution to this thing because it’s been happening for almost six years now. People have been losing their lives. So, I think it's good if government could come in and try to make a resolution that can help people and stop the killing between the taxi people. It's been a long time now."

Read more on:    crime  |  taxi violence

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