11 taxi drivers in Gauteng province, South Africa have been killed, following an ambush while travelling to Johannesburg on Saturday night.
The taxi drivers whose minibus was fired on, were returning from a colleague’s funeral in the coastal region of Kwa-Zulu Natal, police said. Though the motive of the gunmen who left four others critically injured is not known, however it was gathered that rivalry between groups running minibus taxi routes in South Africa had led to violence in the past.
“There was a shooting at about 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) last night. The vehicle was ambushed. There were 11 fatalities and four were seriously injured and are in hospital,” Kwa-Zulu Natal spokesman Jay Naicker said.
“We understand they were from the Gauteng taxi association. There has been a lot of taxi violence in the area but we are still investigating who the perpetrators were.”
South African media had also reported of deadly shootings in Johannesburg. In one week, a taxi owner reportedly with “no enemies” was shot dead in his vehicle, and two others were killed while travelling under a police escort. Ten people were also killed in violence related to rivalries among minibus drivers in Cape Town over one weekend in May.
One of the commuters who were at the taxi rank during the incident spoke on condition of anonymity, said everything happened so fast.
“It was around eight in the morning. I was on the queue to Claremont.
“Suddenly, we heard gun shots coming all sides. The attackers were coming from the side of the flats (hostels) others between the food containers firing shots.
“Everyone ran for cover. After few minutes they stopped and left,” he said.
MEC of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant’s spokesperson Siphesihle Dube said as the provincial government condemns the violent attack that threatened the safety of innocent commuters and resulted in serious injury and the loss of life. “It also threatens to disrupt public transport even further which is already under severe strain.
Together with the SAPS, the City and the National Prosecuting Authority we have also established an Intergovernmental Task Team to get to the root causes of the ongoing conflict and address these effectively,” said Dube.