Three taxi drivers shot dead in separate attacks in OR Tambo

Barely three days after rival taxi associations called a truce on violence in the OR Tambo region, three taxi drivers were gunned down in separate attacks within an hour on Friday night.

At least three passengers were also injured and had to be taken to hospital.

Mthatha police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said the attacks took place between 7.30pm and 8pm.

In the first attack, which took place on the main tar road to Ngqeleni, a 29-year-old driver was shot dead, while moments later a 30-year-old driver was also fatally shot while ferrying passengers.

According to Fatyela, the two attacks happened less than 3km from each other.

“It is believed that the attackers [in both incidents] were travelling in a white sedan,” he said.

“Two people were also injured and taken to hospital in Mthatha.”

Fatyela would not say to which taxi association the two taxi drivers belonged.

Meanwhile, another taxi driver was killed near Port St Johns, also on Friday night, while another person believed to be a commuter was injured. Fatyela said the injured passenger was taken to St Barnabas Hospital in Ntlaza.

The latest deaths bring to 14 the number of people killed in taxirelated attacks in the region since April.

Earlier this year, three people were killed and about 15 others injured when gunmen travelling in a car opened fire on people near the Circus Triangle Shopping Centre in Mthatha.

It was reported on Friday that Uncedo Service Taxi Association and Border Alliance Taxi Association bosses had agreed to a ceasefire in front of provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga after taxi violence had flared up again last week.

On the same day they agreed to smoke a peace pipe, about 52 people were nabbed for alleged public violence and intimidation.

Yesterday, Fatyela warned that police would leave no stone unturned in trying to put an end to taxi violence.

“We are shocked [that taxi violence continues even though we sat down with them],” he said.

Although there had not been any arrests for Friday’s attacks, police were following leads, he said.

Contacted on Saturday, Uncedo president Ntsikelelo Gaehler warned that the violence could cripple the taxi industry.

“This is really bad. It might drive away clients because commuters will not risk their lives,” he said.

Gaehler said he had received a call from the police, calling for an urgent meeting with the taxi associations this week, but he was not sure exactly when it would be held.

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