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Ridge Road hit on tow truck owners linked to industry tensions

Tow truck owner Magesh Naidoo was one of the two people killed in the hit.

Tow truck owner Magesh Naidoo was one of the two people killed in the hit.

Published Oct 21, 2018

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Durban - Magesh Naidoo and Imtiaz Khan were seated outside the petrol station with three other tow truck operators when gunmen in a Toyota Etios opened fire at them. All of the men were shot.

Naidoo was declared dead at the scene, Khan died in hospital and the three others were said to be in a critical condition.

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Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the incident took place just after 1am.

“Five tow truck drivers were at a service station in Ridge Road when occupants in a Toyota Etios, with tinted windows, fired randomly at them. One died at the scene, four were taken to hospital where one later died. They sustained gunshot wounds to the body. Charges of murder and attempted murder are being investigated by Berea SAPS,” said Gwala.

Fellow tow truck owners gathered at the scene on Saturday morning while police were still gathering evidence.

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Tow truck owner Imtiaz Khan was one of the two people killed in the hit.

The owners alleged the attack could be linked to a feud in the tow truck industry.

Althaaf Dawood, a pioneer tow truck owner, was killed in Berea recently.

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It was alleged than 30 rounds of ammunition were fired, some hitting the quick shop window. The crime scene was cordoned off with police tape.

“This is our regular spot; whoever planned this knew they would be here,” said one of the owners, who asked not to be named.

Ettienne Pel, national chairperson of United Towing Association SA, said death threats and extortion were common practice in the towing industry. He cited a lack of regulations and monitoring and said this was putting more lives in danger. Pel said the incident looked more like an assassination, adding that three tow truck owners had been killed in KZN this month.

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“Although I would not speculate about the motive behind this attack, I know the danger most of our members are subjected to.

“Drivers get threatened quite often, there is extortion where they operate. There are places where certain towing trucks are not allowed to operate because of rival wars.

“We have been an engaging SAPS and government nationally for many years to set some regulations. It is out of control.

“The pricing is not regulated, meaning anyone can join at any time without being scrutinised,” said Pel.

Several close friends of the deceased were fearful and angry. They were reluctant to comment when approached.

Naidoo had various business interest including a tavern in the Durban CBD. He also owned a fleet of taxis.

He is survived by his three children, including a 16-month-old boy, and his wife Rebecca.

His close friends described him as a man with a big heart who donated money to many causes to assist people - including soccer teams.

Khan was laid to rest last night at Cope Road cemetery.

The petrol station manager said the incident took place in the full view of their night shift petrol attendants.

He said they would arrange trauma counselling for all workers who witnessed the incident.

Bullet holes at the petrol station.

Bullet holes at the petrol station.

Sunday Tribune

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