Taxi killings: Santaco in KZN hopeful peace will to prevail

Durban – The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal says it is unable to confirm whether rival taxi wars played a role in the recent shooting of a Newcastle taxi operator. 

The 66-year-old taxi operator, Sibusiso Obed Nkomonde, chaired Sizwe Taxi Owners Association.

He was shot dead on Sunday evening, less than a week after deputy chairperson of the rival Kliprivier Taxi Association, Muzikayifani Ngobese, 64, was shot dead.

Nkomonde was ambushed by three armed men on the P843 while driving from Osizweni to Utrecht at about 18:00 on Sunday. He was alone at the time.

Ngobese, from Ladysmith, his daughter Nozipho, 33, two bodyguards and his driver died at the scene when the bakkie they had been travelling in was ambushed.

READ: Ambush leaves 10 dead

However, whether or not the two incidents were linked is still unknown.

Santaco provincial office manager, Sifiso Shangase, told News24 on Tuesday that the council did not have any tangible information to confirm that members of the Kliprivier Taxi Association had shot Nkomonde.

"We have not established whether Nkomonde was shot by members of the Kliprivier Taxi Association. We have also not established whether the hit on the official from the Kliprivier Taxi Association was organised by members of Sizwe Taxi Association," he said.

Santaco said it was keen to get to the bottom of the shootings.

Hope for peace to prevail

"Santaco regional leadership met with officials from both the taxi associations on Monday and today (Tuesday). The provincial leadership of Santaco will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to give us an update on both the meetings. There's hope that there'll be peace in the area soon," he said.

The provincial taxi task team is investigating Nkomonde's shooting and has appealed for anyone with information to contact the local police station or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

Media reports suggest that there are tensions between the two taxi associations over the lucrative Ladysmith-Johannesburg route.

KZN’s MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda has condemned Nkomonde's shooting.

Simmering tensions

Kaunda said last Friday that the department convened a meeting with members of the Sizwe Taxi Association, after receiving reports that there were simmering tensions within the association between members who operated local and long-distance routes.

Shangase said Sizwe Taxi Association operates in Newcastle, Ladysmith and Johannesburg.

Another meeting took place on Monday between the department, Santaco and the association's members, aimed at finding a lasting solution to the conflict, Kaunda said in a statement.

"The continuous killings of taxi operators will not be tolerated in the province," he said.

Kaunda added that, should acts of violence continue in the area, operators found to be involved in the conflict would lose their operating licenses.

"The department, working with the police, will continue to closely monitor the situation in Newcastle to ensure that no further loss of lives occurs," he said.

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