Eastern Cape taxi boss in hospital after ambush

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East London taxi fleet owner Gabs Mtshala was gunned down in the town on Thursday afternoon.
East London taxi fleet owner Gabs Mtshala was gunned down in the town on Thursday afternoon.
  • Well-known East London taxi boss and provincial deputy chair of Santaco Gabs Mtshala was shot and wounded on Thursday.
  • The attack comes as taxi bosses in the province are being targeted in what are believed to be hits. 
  • Six taxi bosses have been killed in the past three months in the Eastern Cape with at least one forced into hiding.

East London taxi tycoon and SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) deputy chair in the Eastern Cape Gabela Gabs Mtshala is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot reportedly six times during an ambush on Thursday afternoon.

Eastern Cape police said Mtshala was shot at about 14:10 in Vincent suburb.

The police are investigating a case of attempted murder, the suspects remain at large. 

The case has been handed over to the police organised crime unit, said Captain Mluleki Mbi.

The attack happened outside the transport department offices in Vincent where Mtshala had just introduced new provincial interim leaders of Santaco to transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxotiwe. 

READ 2 injured, 1 killed in taxi-related shooting in the Eastern Cape

Tikana-Gxotiwe had met with Mtshala at the department’s offices in Vincent in a meeting that wrapped minutes before the shooting. 

Tikana-Gxotiwe has called for calm and peaceful engagements within the taxi industry following what she said was a worrisome flurry of hits on the lives of taxi bosses in the province. 

Tikana Gxothiwe said:

We have noticed with great concern these killings, where the modus operandi had been the same. Where gunmen ambush and kill people in cold blood. It is particularly concerning to us that perpetrators of these heinous crimes, executors and masterminds continue to roam free and may be planning to carry out more such hits.

At the meeting with Tikana-Gxothiwe, Mtshala introduced Zola Bishop Yolelo as interim chair of Santaco as part of six new changes made in its committee in the province.

Yolelo told News24 on Thursday that Mtshala was shot while talking with a colleague on the street outside the meeting venue. 

Yolelo said everyone was in the dark about Mtshala’s condition in hospital as no visitors are allowed to enter his ward, while doctors were tight-lipped about his situation. 

Yolelo said: "We condemn the incident. The hits of our leaders need to stop. This province is impoverished and riddled with joblessness because there are no factories to hire unskilled people on a large scale. The taxi industry is the backbone of the economy of the province. Without it, we are nothing. It’s sad that while we try to build this economy, people are seeking to bring us to our knees with violence."

Asked about the root cause of the attacks, Yolelo said:

We are confused because Border and Uncedo are at peace. We are trying to establish the third force behind these hits. We pray for Mr Mtshala’s speedy recovery and we extend well-wishes to his family.

Yolelo, a leader of Uncedo taxi association in the OR Tambo region, survived a hit in February 2020 when he was shot at multiple times near the 14th SA Infantry battalion in Mthatha.

ALSO READ Eastern Cape taxi industry 'confused' as 4th taxi operator killed in a month

The 47-year-old Mtshala becomes the latest taxi boss to be targeted in the province in ongoing violence that has claimed six lives in the three months and forced at least one boss into hiding.

Mtshala previously told News24 that the recent spate of attacks of taxi bosses was happening within taxi associations due to internal power struggles ahead of taxi elections.

He said there was no conflict between rival taxi associations, adding that even old foes in the industry Border Alliance Taxi Association and Uncedo were at peace.   

The attack of Mtshala comes as taxi bosses from different associations are being ambushed.  

  • On 7 September Balfour taxi owner Jongixolo Enoch Sowambi, 46, and police constable girlfriend Zukiswa Nini, 43, were shot dead around 18:30 while leaving their Emagaleni home.
  • On 27 August Border Alliance Taxi Association chair in the Lusikisiki area Sivuyile Vathu, 44, had a narrow escape from death after he miraculously survived a hit when his car was rained with bullets by a gunman with an automatic rifle. He is in hiding. His driver and bodyguard Siya Shezi died from the hail of bullets coming from a white Golf 7 with a ND number plate during the drive by shooting.
  • On 19 August Uncedo Taxi Association secretary Doc Ngcongca, 50, was shot dead in Mbeki Street, Nomzamo location, in Komani.
  • On 6 August Uncedo Taxi Association’s chair in Komani, Sandi Mgobo, 48, was shot dead outside his home in Ezibeleni by unknown gunmen.
  • On 31 July, Mqanduli Taxi Association chairperson Wiseman Phandiwonga Gxalathane, 65, was shot dead outside his home in Ndungunyeni.
  • On 17 July, Border Alliance Taxi operator Sinethemba Dyani, 40, was also gunned down inside his Quantum minibus while preparing to depart to Qonce taxi rank where he worked.
  • On 15 July Uncedo Taxi association chairperson in Nelson Mandela Bay region Diki Zamani, was gunned down at Njoli in Gqeberha while sitting in his parked car.

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