The South African Police Service (SAPS) has activated a 72-hour action plan to trace and apprehend those responsible for the killing of 11 people associated with the Ivory Park Taxi Association in Gauteng.
SAPS National Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, on Sunday announced the plan, which consists of members from specialised units within SAPS, including Crime Intelligence, the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks), detectives and the Special Task Force.
“The acting Provincial Commissioner of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, and his management team are overseeing the investigation into these murders. We will wait for the investigation to advance before speculating on the motive,” said Sitole.
The incident happened on Saturday evening on the R74 road between Colenso and Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal.
Preliminary reports indicate that the 11 were among 17 people that were travelling in a taxi coming from a funeral in the province, heading back to Johannesburg, when unknown men opened fire on the taxi, fatally wounding 11 people.
Four people have been critically wounded and recuperating in hospital. Two people escaped unharmed.
The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, who visited the scene strongly condemned the incident and committed the police to work around the clock to ensure that suspects are apprehended and face the full might of the law.
Kaunda also distanced the incident from the ongoing taxi conflicts in Ladysmith, which have resulted in the suspension of some operations belonging to Sizwe and Klipriver Taxi Associations.
“We have not found any link that this incident is related with the taxi conflicts in Ladysmith or anywhere else in the province. The areas have been stable since government intervened in the area. There are strong indications, however, that this incident is related with taxi conflict in Gauteng,” said Kaunda.
Kaunda said government will continue to encourage taxi operators to resolve their dispute through constructive engagement instead of resorting to violence.
“Working with Santaco, we have intervened and resolved a number of conflicts within the taxi industry to ensure that it continues to contribute in the economic growth of the province. We are pleased that in all areas where we have intervened such as KwaDukuza, Maphumulo, Nongoma, Newcastle and Esigodini in Pietermaritzburg, there is stability and we are now able to detect violent incidents before they occur,” said Kaunda.
Anyone who might have information to assist police to arrest these senseless killings is encouraged to contact their nearest police station or phone the SAPS Crime Hot-Line on 08600 10111.
The police have assured that callers can remain anonymous, if they so choose, and all information will be treated with the strictest confidence.