Eleven Taxi Drivers Killed In South African Ambush

An unidentified gunman opened fire on a group of taxi drivers Saturday night in Kwa-Zulu Natal province, killing 11 and critically injuring four others. According to Reuters, the drivers are members of the Gauteng taxi association and were returning home from the funeral of a colleague. As the drivers road together in a minibus, a gunman pulled alongside them and opened fire.

Kwa-Zulu Natal spokesman Jay Naicker addressed the incident, saying, "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 [the] hospital."

Naicker also added that there has been "a lot of taxi violence in the area but we are still investigating who the perpetrators were."

Taxi violence is reportedly common in the area, with rival groups constantly battling to secure the most "profitable routes."

Just last week, Sanele Maseko, association deputy chairperson of the Nancefield Dube West Taxi Association (Nanduwe) was killed by an unknown assailant. According to BBC News, Maseko is said to "have no known enemies."

In a statement addressing Maseko's murder, Ralph Jones, the spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), encouraged the differing taxi groups to sit down and talk, according to IOL.

"Differences that are happening out there cannot be resolved by a bullet. By shooting somebody you are depriving someone of a father and a husband. We are going to lose good people who are going to add value to the taxi industry. We are hoping that the police should do their work."

In Western Cape, another bout of taxi violence resulted in the deaths of nine people. Three others were critically injured, News24 reports.

Four taxi drivers were killed in April after tensions rose between Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association and Bara City Taxi Owners Association, according to IOL.

The "taxi wars" as locals have come to call it have been raging for years, likely since the 1980s, as News24 reports. A September 2017 article reported that Soweto residents are constantly fearful of getting caught in the crossfire of rival taxi companies.

"The number of innocent people dying is increasing on a daily basis due to the war and now people in Soweto are concerned," said a local resident. Many are forgoing riding in taxis until the local government and police officials can guarantee safety.

The amount of violence committed by these rival taxi companies has escalated in the last few years, police report.