Taxi massacre: What the hell happened?
Eleven deaths. Over 250 bullets. Now police are chasing to find out what went down on a quiet road in KZN
As police work around the clock on their 72-hour activation plan to track down the killers of 11 taxi drivers in one of the deadliest massacres in KwaZulu-Natal, there was still no sign whether they would be able to nab the suspects.
National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole’s spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told Times Select on Monday that he had been inundated with calls regarding the incident for most of the day, but there was nothing new to report.
“Since our communications on Sunday on the 72-hours activation plan there are no new developments,” said Naidoo.
He said on Sunday that police had embarked on a plan to nab those responsible for the shooting on the R74 between Colenso and Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal. The attack killed 11 taxi drivers affiliated to the Ivory Park taxi association.
The taxi drivers had been travelling back to Gauteng after attending the funeral of their taxi boss in Ematimatolo, in Greytown, when they were ambushed by unknown gunmen who jumped onto the road from the bushes and opened fire on the taxi.More than 250 bullet casings littered the scene of the massacre, which has sent shockwaves through the taxi industry.
The latest taxi killing follows another in November last year where 10 people were killed in a taxi violence related incident in Ladysmith, also in central KZN.
But provincial transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda, who visited the scene of the massacre, said there was no link between the killing and the taxi conflict between the two rival local taxi associations in KZN.
He said, however, that the initial indication was that the slayings stem from the shooting last week that lead to the death of the taxi driver whose funeral the victims had attended in Ladysmith on Saturday.
Ivory Park Taxi Association chairperson Johannes Mkonza said he was still confused about why drivers working for his members were massacred in KwaZulu-Natal.“It has been a very difficult situation … People from all corners of Gauteng have been calling me since Sunday morning. These drivers did not even get permission from the office to go there‚” he said on Monday.
Mkonza said 10 of those killed were drivers from Ivory Park.
“The whole thing [trip to KZN] was never arranged through the office. Even the vehicle they were travelling in was not from Ivory Park; it belongs to our neighbouring association‚” he said.
“There is speculation that it could be a village thing ... We are not in any conflict. Not even a dot of it. Our association is operating in peace. We are not in conflict with any other association currently. We are not fighting with anyone. As to why our drivers were ambushed‚ we are trying to figure it out‚” said Mkonza.
“Our drivers are known as good drivers and well-behaved. We are even thinking they were mistaken with another car in KZN that is in conflict there‚” he said.
Two of the five survivors told a daily Durban newspaper that they had had enough of the taxi violence and will going back to Gauteng not knowing how they will support their families.
Nkululeko Mlaba, 31, said if it were not for his ancestors he would be dead.
“Why is it that we must be caught in the line of fire while the people fighting are owners? I want to get better and go home. I am not going back to this industry,” he was quoted as saying.
Another survivor, Vukani Magubane, 28, is reported as saying: “I don’t have any other job. I quit. If these people can’t sort their issues out without harming us, then I would rather sit at home doing nothing.”KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said if the police made any arrest they must ensure that they have a strong case, because otherwise it will simply be withdrawn for lack of evidence.
“It is convictions we need,” said De Haas.
She said the taxi industry needed better regulation and policing, especially from members with a proven track record, which was not happening because of mismanagement in the police service.
Additional reporting by Penwell Dlamini