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

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There has been a taxi shooting in Eastern Cape.
There has been a taxi shooting in Eastern Cape.
Bertram Malgas
  • The chairperson of the Border Alliance Taxi Association, Sivuyile Vathu, is recovering in hiding after he was shot and wounded on Friday.
  • Vathu became head of the taxi association in April after his predecessor, Nkululeko Gweba, was murdered in January. 
  • Vathu's driver, Siya Shezi, died in the attack.

The chairperson of the Border Alliance Taxi Association in Lusikisiki, Sivuyile Vathu, was shot and wounded and his driver, Siya Shezi, killed in an apparent taxi-related hit.  

Vathu and Shezi were driving in a Mazda BT 50 double-cab bakkie when they came under attack on Friday.

A second man, who was in the back passenger seat, also survived the attack.

Vathu, 42, laid the blame for the attack at the feet of fellow taxi members who opposed his election in April. 

According to him, the attackers were driving next to them in a white Golf 7 with an ND number plate.

The incident took place in Nikwe Location, Lusikisiki. 

READ | Gqeberha taxi association chairperson shot dead

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said the motive for the shooting was unknown and as yet no arrests have been made. 

Kinana added the police were still probing the incident.

Vathu said he suspected the gunman mistook his driver for him. 

He told News24: "I was driving the car myself with my two security guards as passengers all day until around 4pm when I decided to let one of my security guards drive. They [the assailants] thought I was behind the wheel and killed my driver."

Two bullets did, however, hit Vathu, one on his right arm, while the other grazed his chest.

The father of four is now in hiding while he recovers from the attack.

Some of the recent killings of taxi bosses include:
  • The Uncedo Taxi Association's chairperson in Komani, Sandi Mgobo, 48, who was shot dead outside his home in Ezibeleni by unknown gunmen on 6 August.
  • On 15 July, the Uncedo Taxi Association chairperson in Nelson Mandela Bay region, Diki Zamani, was gunned down in Njoli, Gqeberha, while sitting in his parked car.
  • On 17 July, Border Alliance Taxi operator Sinethemba Dyani, 40, was gunned down inside his Quantum mini-bus while preparing to depart for the Qonce taxi rank where he worked.
  • On 31 July, Mqanduli Taxi Association chairperson Wiseman Phandiwonga Gxalathane, 65, was shot dead outside his home in Ndungunyeni.

Describing the incident, Vathu said the hit men drove behind them, slowed down and drove side by side with his driver before opening fire on them.

"There were two of them in the car, one was driving, and the triggerman was sitting in the back passenger seat aiming with a rifle and shooting. My driver was hit in the head and fell on me while driving. His brains spattered all over me."

The lifeless driver's foot, however, kept pressing down on the accelerator, causing the car to veer all over the road, said Vathu. 

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

"I tried to control the steering wheel until the car hit a tree and I got out of the car and withdrew my firearm preparing to fire back together with my second security guard but I did not see them. They had stopped pursuing me thinking it was me they had shot."

Vathu claimed the attack was ordered from inside his association. 

"They killed our chairperson, Nkululeko Gweba, on 9 January inside his home, at the time I was his vice before I took over as chair after the April elections. In February, they killed our treasurer, Sfiso Hlalayedwa, followed by another member, Xolani, in March." 

Asked the motive behind the killings, he said people with uncontrollable desire for powerful positions were behind them.

Vathu added thuggery in the Border Alliance Taxi Association in the Lusikisiki district was demonstrated at a general meeting on 11 March 2018 where public order police had to be called in to prevent an exchange of gunfire between members.

"That day, some people entered the venue with groups of unknown heavily armed people holding rifles. The meeting could not sit," he said.    

SA National Taxi Council [Santaco] said the recent spate of attacks on taxi bosses was not due to a conflict between different associations but was caused by internal politics inside associations. 

Santaco's deputy chairperson in the Eastern Cape, Gabs Mtshala, said:
There is currently no fight between Border Alliance and Uncedo. Most of these attacks are now caused by internal association politics. It is very difficult to deal with this situation as the root cause is sometimes power struggle. It's now election time in most associations. Mother bodies in which these associations belong need to get involved as sometimes they get the feeling of tensions before there is death.

ALSO | Third taxi operator shot dead in Eastern Cape

"It is a very sad story because we as a province just came back from the Western Cape whereby we successfully stopped taxi violence. Now it is heading for our shores," he added. 

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