Pretoria - Police are investigating the killing of four Hammanskraal taxi officials, shot dead while having lunch at the weekend.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said a provincial taxi violence unit was investigating four counts of murder. “It is alleged that at around midday on Sunday, four Simunye Taxi Association members were approached by a white Audi hatchback. Without a word, two occupants with firearms started shooting at them before fleeing.
“All role players were mobilised as per the 72-hour Activation Plan. No one has been arrested yet. Anyone with information can call Crime Stop number 08600 10111 or send tip-offs on MySAPS App.”
Videos and images of the bodies of a taxi owner-driver, queue marshal and two former executive members of Simunye Taxi Association have been doing the rounds on social media.
The disturbing videos show the dead men were sitting at an outside table when they were ambushed and shot; their bodies left face down after being sprayed with bullets at the taxi rank in Rainbow Shopping Centre.
A spokesperson for the taxi industry in Tshwane, McDonald Makata, said it was high time security measures were put in place.
Assailants were killing taxi operators at their place of work and fleeing the scene without trouble, he said.
“We seriously condemn this senseless act of violence. We cannot go on like this, with some people thinking violence is the solution to anything.
“At this stage we do not know what could have caused the shooting, but we are hoping law enforcement could help us know, and punish the perpetrators.”
The Gauteng Department of Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure said MEC Jacob Mamabolo had been very vocal and aggressive in dealing with tensions in the industry, even placing some taxi associations under administration.
He extended his condolences to the families of the victims. “We send our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this barbaric crime at the hands of ruthless and bloodthirsty criminals. We call on those who may have leads to come forward and assist the police in apprehending those behind the murders.
“We condemn those who orchestrated the murders which have robbed families of their loved ones. These elements are doing the taxi industry a disservice, projecting this industry as an inhumane and violent industry.
“Those who continue using violence are becoming isolated in our province as more leaders in the taxi industry reject such barbaric methods in their business. While this incident is disheartening, it will not stop us in our efforts to rid the industry of murders.”
Mamabolo said the department adopted an open-door policy that allowed taxi operators a platform to raise their concerns without the use of violence. This is in line with its Growing Gauteng Through Smart Mobility vision, which has prioritised support mechanisms to assist the taxi industry to modernise and shed its negative reputation and become sustainable.