‘Tell your loved ones you love them’ - chilling call before taxi slaying
The grieving girlfriend of a slain taxi driver recalls the last conversations she had with the father of her baby
Just the day before he was killed in a brutal taxi slaying in central KwaZulu-Natal, Sipho Vilakazi phoned his girlfriend and relayed an ominous message.
“He gave me a strange call on Friday night, telling me one of the [taxi] owners told them to call their loved ones and tell them they loved them. I didn't take him seriously,” Ziyanda Nomsenga, 21, told Times Select.
She was speaking during a memorial service for the Ivory Park Taxi Local Operators members who were killed in Colenso, KZN, on Saturday night as they returned to Johannesburg from attending the funeral of an association member who was murdered.
In total, 11 people were killed as their minibus was riddled with 250 bullets.
The Rabie Ridge Hall in Tembisa was full on Thursday for the memorial, which was attended predominantly by men who appeared to be part of the taxi industry.
Nomsenga, the mother of hers and Vilakazi’s baby, wept as she recounted how she had lost the man who would have become her husband. She said she would never find another man like him.According to her, Vilakazi was in the process of paying lobola for her and was to take her to meet his mother. The two started dating in 2015.
What seemed like a normal day on Sunday turned into a day of horror and distress.
“On Sunday morning I was sweeping and cleaning the yard when my mechanic neighbour asked me when last I spoke to Sipho, I said yesterday [Saturday]. He then told me to check up on him because there was an accident that took place. I could see he was scared.“I went back inside the house and all I could think of was my child. I was devastated,” she said.
Nomsenga recalled her last conversation with Vilakazi, which unbeknowns to her would come just hours before his brutal death.
“I had last spoke to him on Saturday morning when he was telling me that they were done to the burial,” she said with teary eyes.
She said that she was not coping as her child's future was always on her mind.
“On Friday before the father left, my baby started acting strange. He was a bit sick and restless. I had just started giving him formula milk and I thought he was simply reacting to it. What's more painful is that the father promised to buy him milk when he came back from the funeral, but now he's no more,” the distraught mother said.
She remembers him as a humble and gentle man who never made her feel inferior.“Even when I would shout, he was always calm and understanding. Although I had no job, he has never made me feel less. I will miss him. I don't think I will meet another like him. I am too hurt, I don't think I will be able to attend the funeral,” Nomsenga said.
Nomsenga said her family has been supportive. Her mother and father accompanied her and sat beside her at the memorial.
“My brother said he will help me. But I can't help but worry about the future. I don't know what I will do.”
South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) president Phillip Taaibosch apologised to the families for the sorrow that the industry has caused over the years.
He blamed third-party interference for the ongoing violence.
“Someone saw that you are becoming powerful. Is it not time that we tell whoever that's doing this that it's enough?
“I blame three institutions: taxi owners, government and the media. Those are people responsible for the continuous confusion of where we should be going as South Africa and where should the taxi industry be going,” Taaibosch said.
He also denied the claim that the massacre took place due to a fight over the Mall of Africa route.