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Tension rises as taxi boss is killed

The slaying of a KwaZulu-Natal taxi boss has heightened tensions in the volatile industry, amid fears of an outbreak of an all-out taxi war over routes.

Brook Street taxi rank in Durban
Brook Street taxi rank in Durban

Already the Port Shepstone-based Zamokuhle Long Distance Taxi Association has fingered their Durban-based rivals – led by president Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Mfundo Gcaba – for allegedly orchestrating the killing of their deputy chairperson Mlungisi “Boro” Ngcobo.

Ngcobo, who was also an ANC regional leader, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Wednesday afternoon, while driving with his teenage daughter.

Zamokuhle has been at loggerheads with Sonke Long Distance Taxi Association – of which Gcaba is a member – for nearly three months after Sonke “violently” annexed Zamokuhle’s routes.

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Zamokuhle won a court case last week that compelled Sonke to vacate a taxi rank in Durban’s Brook Street by July 22. But Sonke defied the court and continued to operate from the rank.

Court papers in our possession clearly blame Gcaba for the routes dispute, and warn of an impending taxi war. Gcaba is also accused of using Zuma’s name to bulldoze opponents, a charge he vehemently denies.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of transport, which was a respondent in Zamokuhle’s court challenge, also obtained a court order of its own on Wednesday against Sonke, hours before Ngcobo was killed.

Amos Madlala, the chairperson of Zamokuhle who brought the court challenge, said it was clear they were now being targeted.

“We know who is targeting us. We won the case but they are refusing to move out of the taxi rank. This murder is clearly linked to this and the police have refused to enforce the court order,” said Madlala.

He accused the government of tip-toeing around the issue because it involved the Gcabas.

The Gcaba brothers, who have blood ties with Zuma through their mother, who is the president’s sister, own a public transport business empire led by Mandla Gcaba and brothers Roma, Thembinkosi and Mfundo.

Mfundo is also accused of having “annexed” routes in Highflats, Jolivet, Umzinto and Umzimkhulu.

Major Thulani Zwane of KZN police said no arrests had been made : “Police found heavy calibre gun cartridges as well as handgun cartridges on the scene. The door of the vehicle on the driver side had several bullet holes in it.”

Zwane would not answer questions about police’s alleged failure to enforce a court order.

Meanwhile, the ANC has expressed shock at the killing of Ngcobo. Provincial secretary of the party, Sihle Zikalala, said Ngcobo was a trusted and hardworking ANC member.

Lower South Coast ANC leader Mzwandile Mkhwanazi cautioned against “wild speculation” saying the police must be allowed to finalise the probe. Sowetan