Durban - AT LEAST six people have died in shootings this week, with two men being fatally shot yesterday in Umbilo.
The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) is calling for an end to the murders in the industry after a number of people died in taxi-related incidents in KwaZulu-Natal.
On Thursday a taxi owner who was returning from a meeting was shot dead near a taxi rank in Isipingo. Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a 61-year-old man was driving along Watson and Police Station roads when he was shot. The man lost control of his vehicle and it crashed into a wall.
“He sustained multiple gunshot wounds. We cannot confirm whether the incident is related to taxi violence or not,” she said.
A murder docket was opened at Isipingo police station.
Also on Thursday, provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said a blue Toyota Corolla was travelling along Umbilo Road when its occupants were ambushed by people in a white SUV who opened fire on the Toyota, killing the driver and passenger.
Both men suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
“The motive of the attack is unknown,” he said.
A witness who did not want to be named said he had seen a car pull up alongside the Toyota and more than 30 shots were fired.
The firearms used are believed to have been automatic rifles. The passenger was found seated behind the driver with the bodies drenched in blood. The Toyota is suspected to be used for e-hailing.
Andre de Bruin, chairperson of the Durban E-hailing Association, confirmed reports of the Toyota being used at the time of the attack for e-hailing.
In another incident, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said a minibus taxi was travelling from Durban to KwaSwayimane when gunmen shot at it on Wednesday. Mbele said the taxi was travelling along Eddie Hagen Drive in Inchanga when a silver vehicle came alongside it. Ntuli said the assailants ambushed the taxi near Ngeli Dam.
“The passenger in the car fired shots from a rifle towards the taxi. The 37-year-old taxi driver and two passengers, an 18-month-old baby and a 15-year-old schoolgirl, died at the scene. Seven passengers, aged between four months and 40 years old were injured,” Mbele said.
Ntuli said high-calibre firearms were used. Three counts of murder and seven of attempted murder were opened at Inchanga police station.
Ntuli said the shooting was allegedly part of an ongoing feud between two families in KwaSwayimane. He said it had now escalated into a taxi conflict in the area. He said scores of people had lost their lives in the area.
“We are disturbed by this incident. The killing of commuters must not go unpunished. Our team from the Public Transport unit is working with the leadership of the taxi industry, community leaders and all affected stakeholders.”
He said KwaSwayimane and Hammarsdale were among a few areas that the government and the police were paying attention to in building peace and stability in the taxi industry.
“While progress has been made, there are stubborn elements that need to be addressed,” he said.
The eThekwini ward 1 councillor, Bongumusa Mkhize, lambasted the police for their inaction in resolving the issue that had been going on for a year. He said the police would hopefully now take the matter seriously.
Santaco provincial spokesperson Sifiso Shangase said assassinations were tarnishing the image of the industry. He said despite Santaco providing taxi associations with conflict resolution strategies, some had disregarded them. With regard to the Inchanga shooting, he said Santaco was investigating allegations of route disputes.
Police are also still hunting for a suspect who shot a woman and left her in the middle of the road on the M7 highway on Wednesday afternoon.
Pinetown SAPS are investigating a case of attempted murder after the 30-year-old woman was found by a motorist lying in the middle of the M7 towards Pinetown with gunshot wounds to the chest, arm and abdomen. Mbele said according to a motorist, the woman was allegedly shot inside a vehicle and dumped in the middle of the road. “The suspect then fled.”
Additional reporting Kelyn Blackburn and Jolene Marriah