The KwaZulu-Natal member of the executive council (MEC) for transport, community safety and liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, has said that taxi violence and the rise of hitmen operating within the sector was directly related to the “over saturation” of taxis in the market place and no new routes to absorb them.
Kaunda was speaking on the sidelines of an integrated law enforcement meeting that took place in Mayville, Durban, today.
On Thursday, Kaunda is expected to table a report before the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature about the Saturday night taxi shooting on the R74 near Colenso, northern KwaZulu-Natal, that resulted in the killing of 12 people. More than 250 bullets were sprayed during the incident.
The 12 dead were members of the Ivory Park Taxi Association, based in Gauteng. They had been attending a funeral in Matimatolo, west of Ladysmith.
The attack has sparked nationwide condemnation and led Police Minister Bheki Cele to establish a special task team to make quick arrests.
The area where the shooting occurred has been embroiled in its own taxi turf war between rival associations.
Last year, the Klipriver Taxi Association deputy chairperson, Muzikayifani Ngobese, and his four bodyguards died when gunmen opened fire on their double-cab vehicle.
A passing vehicle was caught in the crossfire, resulting in the deaths of six teachers on their way to work. However, authorities have not linked Saturday’s incident to last year’s shooting.
“We have a firm belief that we have a taxi industry that commutes more than 68% of our people in the country. But within that industry there is another industry that has developed. It is the industry of hitmen. It has become an industry on its own,” said Kaunda.
“When these people are approaching holidays you will see the increase in the number of killings because they want to secure money for holidays.
“Our effort is to defeat that particular industry hence we are saying as government…we are regularising the industry to operate professionally, so we don’t need you to fight. Don’t bring more vehicles as that is the source of violence due to over saturation [of taxis to particular routes],” said Kaunda.
He said there was a need for the taxi industry to diversify.
“In this province the taxi operators are becoming part of the ownership of buses. This is part of the programme of radical economic socio-transformation. Don’t fight over small routes. The land is limited. The routes are exhausted,” said Kaunda.
– African News Agency (ANA)