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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 515
Paragraph Numbers 441 to 449
Taxi violence and vigilante activity
441 Conflict in the taxi industry has been the subject of many reports, commissions of inquiry and research projects and will not be covered in detail here. The social cost of the conflicts in the region was enormous. Major Louis van Brackel of the Violent Crime Investigation Unit in Athlone stated on 8 March 1991 that there had been 628 reported attacks involving at least thirty-seven deaths, 139 injuries, 341 taxis burnt or damaged and at least 300 homes damaged or destroyed. These figures are conservative: elsewhere the figure of seventy-four deaths is suggested. In some instances, whole areas were attacked and destroyed, particularly in Khayelitsha. In one incident, the informal settlement of Black City in Nyanga was virtually obliterated. The political cost for the ANC was also high: a number of killings or attempted killings of key activists were linked to the taxi conflicts.
442 SANCO or ANC activists who were involved in the Transport Co-ordinating Crisis Committee (TCCC), which was attempting to resolve the conflicts, became targets for attack. On 8 July 1991, civic chairperson Mr Michael Mapongwana and Mr Ntini Mtshintshi were returning from Wynberg court along Lansdowne Road when they were stopped, pulled out of their vehicle and shot dead [CT00836]. Several WEBTA individuals were later charged, but on 25 January Mr Michael Ndongeni (a WEBTA member due to appear as a state witness) was shot dead after he made a sworn statement alleging that he was part of the WEBTA group that planned the murder of Mapongwana. Ndongeni was killed when unknown attackers chased and shot him dead at the Nyanga taxi rank. In other attacks, activists such as Mr Lucas Mbembe [CT00934] and Mr Super Nkatazo were shot and killed. Hostel-dweller leader Mr Johnson Mpukumpa was shot and wounded. In June 1991 Mr Zola Tsoni and Mr Michael Mhlengwana were shot dead in Khayelitsha.
443 The pattern of conflict in the taxi industry in the Western Cape appears to be typical of the industry as a whole. Endless peace agreements continue to be negotiated and broken and new organisations formed in an attempt to bring unity, followed by further splits.
444 Ranks, routes and permits were the basis of most of the conflicts in the industry. However, questions can be raised about the police’s failure to prevent conflict and bring charges against criminals in the taxi industry. These factors allowed the conflict to sustain itself over a long period of time. Of concern was the easy accessibility of weapons and ammunition. A substantial number of allegations concerned outside involvement in the supply of weaponry, assistance in the course of attacks and the role of the police. A UMAC document entitled ‘Did the Third Force exploit the taxi conflict and produce a war?’ described the use of police vehicles in attacks and the involvement of white men in deliveries of weapons and in the planning of an attack on Black City.
Links to other groups
445 Certain town councillors in both the Lingelethu West and Crossroads town council were taxi owners themselves. The statement by criminal ‘balaclava’ gang member Michael Mvokwe [CT02819], quoted earlier, directly links Hoza to violent support for WEBTA in Khayelitsha.
446 After the formation of the taxi association CODETA (Convention for Democratic Taxi Associations) and, soon afterwards, CATA (Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association), violence in the taxi industry continued unabated.66 A further dimension to the political allegiances within the taxi conflicts emerged in the alliance between the WEBTA hit squad known as the Big Eight and Jeffrey Nongwe (see above). Several members of the Big Eight appear to have had connections with the PAC.
447 CATA was spearheaded by WECUSA chairman Jeffery Nongwe and the Big Eight Gang, also known as the Balaclava Gang. Nongwe’s ‘cabinet’ was allegedly prominent in the violence surrounding the taxi conflict. It is obvious that the subsequent taxi hostilities became inextricably linked to Nongwe’s own struggles for control of certain areas of Crossroads. Within this scenario, Nongwe called upon members of the Big Eight Gang, also historically associated with WEBTA, to assist in a territorial struggle with SANCO67 .
448 The report quoted above states that “supposed political ties have been cited as one of the reasons behind the break between CATA and CODETA”. Suggestions have been made that CATA members are generally PAC-aligned while CODETA members are ANC-aligned. It is important to note, however, that while some CATA taxis used PAC colours, the PAC denied any formal link with the taxi organisation.
449 The taxi war still continues to claim casualties at the time of reporting. The political dimensions that permeated the bloody conflicts are complex, with interwoven criminal and political activity. There is little doubt of the interconnections between political agendas and the taxi wars. Whether this was the result of malicious orchestration by any part of the security establishment remains to be proved.65 For example, a police intelligence report was leaked to the press and resulted in an article in the Sunday Times on 13 February 1994. It was authored by Gordon Brookbanks, a member of CIS who had been integrally involved in the ‘resolution’ of the problem in Khayalitsha, and currently working for the NIA. The report, dated 31 January 1994, is entitled ‘Report on link between organised violence (Western Cape Squatter Communities) and elements of Ciskei Government/Administration and African Democratic Movement’.