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Taxi war shakes Mbekweni

The most recent killing took place on Tuesday evening (25 February) at 21:30 when a 22-year-old man, Siphenkosi Dumezweni, was shot dead in Drommedaris Street near Thembani in Mbekweni.

According to sergeant Nceba Vanqa, Mbekweni Police spokesperson, a friend of Dumezweni told them that he and Dumezweni were walking in the street together when shots were suddenly fired at them. They ran for cover among shacks in the area, but Dumezweni was fatally wounded, said Vanqa in a statement.

Dumezweni is not believed to be associated with the taxi industry, but the said friend, who for safety reasons wishes to remain unknown, is a taxi driver.

Earlier on the same day, a taxi affiliated to Cata (Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association) was attacked and two men inside the taxi were killed in a hail of gunfire.

According to Vanqa, unknown gunmen were waiting for the taxi at the corner of Silimela and Pinzi Streets near the Thusong Centre.

It is alleged that a taxi had dropped the suspects earlier at the scene. After the fatal shooting, the suspects fled the scene on foot. The deceased have not yet been identified.

When Paarl Post arrived at the crime scene, police had found at least nine empty bullet cartridges.

On Friday 21 February at 15:20 a 41-year-old man was also killed during a shooting incident near the Mbekweni railway station.

According to sergeant Vanqa, police received a shooting in progress complaint, but were too late to intervene.

On arrival the police found the bleeding body of a man lying on the ground, with no apparent signs of life. Bystanders told police there had been crossfire between the Cata and Codeta taxi alliances. Mzuvukile Vedala, a Codeta affiliate from Khayelitsha, was shot dead.

An eyewitness said the shooting was like something from a movie. “We heard what sounded like machine guns. The children were excited, not knowing what it was, while adults were running away as the bullets were flying everywhere.”

Paarl Post understands that the recent surge in violence can be traced back to disputes over taxi routes, most notably the route between Mbekweni and Bellville.

Once taxi drivers from outside Paarl, including Bellville, Kraaifontein and Strand, started operating in Mbekweni last year, tensions began to flare up.

Sources in Mbekweni who wish to remain anonymous, believe a taxi owner “allowed” these operators to do business in Mbekweni.

They allege that this may have cost him his life. 

Since then taxi owners and drivers have been killed and injured at an alarming rate. 

Andile Seyamo, spokesperson of the Cata taxi alliance, said that they are still determining the root of the conflict in Paarl.

“We are willing to resolve any conflict as this is destroying our business and the image of taxi associations,” Seyamo said. 

Codeta could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.Murder cases are being investigated. No one has been arrested so far.

Anyone with information can call or visit Mbekweni Police Station. The Station Commander Lt Col Cisco Coetzee is urging the community to report any form of crime.

All information will remain anonymous.

*Other taxi-related killings in 2020:

A 41-year-old taxi boss, Nkosiyabo Mhobo, was killed at Monwabisi Street, B-Block in Mbekweni on Monday 17 February. 

On Tuesday morning (28 January) a taxi driver was shot and killed in plain sight of peak-hour commuters at the Huguenot train station. 

On Monday evening (27 January) a taxi driver was shot at his home in Paarl East and died in hospital. In another taxi violence related incident, a 53-year-old taxi boss, Zakuthini Tyhilana, was killed in front of his house in Goniwe Street, Drommedaris on Thursday 16 January.

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