22 July 2018

South Africa: Police Implement 72-Hour Plan to Trace and Arrest KZN Taxi Shooting Suspects

Police said on Sunday that they had embarked on a plan to nab those responsible for a shooting in KwaZulu-Natal which killed 11 people affiliated to the Ivory Park taxi association.

"General Khehla Sitole condemns in the strongest terms, the senseless killing of eleven people associated to the Ivory-Park taxi association in Gauteng," said the National Police Commissioner's spokesperson brigadier Vish Naidoo in a statement.

On Saturday night, a minibus taxi from Gauteng was travelling from a funeral at Ematimatolo back to Johannesburg, along the R74 road between Colenso and Weenen, when it was ambushed by a group of shooters.

On Sunday afternoon, Sitole announced that he had implemented a 72-hour action plan to trace and arrest those responsible.

Various specialised police units including Crime Intelligence, the Hawks, detectives, the Special Task Force and other officials would take part in the investigation. The acting provincial commissioner of KZN, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and his management team would be overseeing the investigation into these murders.

"We will wait for the investigation to advance before speculating on a motive," added Sitole. Anyone with information was asked to contact police - and could stay anonymous if they so wished.

Earlier, provincial police spokesperson brigadier Jay Naicker, confirmed that along with the 11 fatalities, four people were seriously injured, and two people survived the attack without sustaining injuries.

The attackers emerged from bushes near the road, before opening fire on the vehicle's occupants.

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport Dr Blade Nzimande condemned the senseless killing saying they were symbolic of organised crime and "utter disregard of the life of other citizens".

He said such offences were serious, unjustifiable crimes which were punishable by law and commended the police for their swift response in activating the 72-hour action plan.

Nzimande said well-established dispute mechanisms existed in the taxi industry which must be adhered to by all operators regardless of their affiliation to any taxi association or grouping.

These mechanisms were spelled out clearly in conditions of the granting of operating licences, as well as on sector and association protocols which aimed at harnessing peaceful and cordial relations in the industry, he said.

"We therefore cannot allow a small group of criminal syndicates to hold the taxi industry at ransom. We will act decisively and punish harshly those who continue to perpetuate these senseless acts of lawlessness."

He added that the department would be hosting a multi-stakeholder indaba to address challenges within the taxi industry and public transport during the October transport month later this year.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on police also condemned the attack, describing it as "heinous killings".

"Violence in the taxi industry has now reached crisis levels in the country and multi-sectoral intervention strategy must be implemented to effectively deal with this scourge," the committee's chairperson Francois Beukman said in a statement.

He said the issue of illegal firearms also needed to be addressed.

"While the committee is cognisant that a proper investigation would need to be undertaken to ascertain the firearms utilised in perpetrating these crimes, it is almost certain that illegal firearms were used," said Beukman.

Condolences were extended to the families of those killed.

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Sunday also extended its condolences in a statement, adding that it "called for calm" in the aftermath of the shooting.

The organisation's national spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said: "no stone must be left unturned until those responsible for the heinous and ghastly crime are behind bars."

Source: News24

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