While more than 30 taxi operators have been killed in the Eastern Cape since 2015, the Hawks have offered a R100000 reward for information for just one of those cases.
The crime elite unit offered the reward this week for information leading to the arrest of the killers of well-known Mdantsane taxi boss Xolani Michael Maphuma. He was killed in March last year at a busy Mdantsane Highway Taxi City at around 5pm amid a raging taxi war.
The reward comes as taxi violence has gripped the OR Tambo region this year alone – with gunmen yet to be arrested in the majority of the cases.
Hawks Eastern Cape spokeswoman Captain Anelisa Feni said anyone with information should call Warrant Officer Mcebisi Qakala on 079-508-9596.
“The reward is offered to any person who has information which may lead to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of a suspect or suspects who murdered Mapuma,” Feni said.
Asked why the reward was only offered in Mapuma’s case, Feni said a reward was the prerogative of the investigating officer. “Should a need arise the same process can be followed.”
Yesterday, Maphuma’s 31-year-old son Zwelixolile said his family had given up on the matter and had moved on. “This is not the first reward to be offered by the Hawks. As a family we have told ourselves to forget about justice in the murder of our father and move on. These questions from the Dispatch and Hawks rewards announcements are just opening up old wounds,” he said.
Most of the slayings were allegedly as a result of leadership disputes within taxi associations.
In June two taxi operators competing for chairmanship at the Mdantsane Uncedo Services Taxi Association (Mdusta) were shot and killed. Mthetheleli “Mtheza” Mqala was shot and killed at Mdantsane’s Highway taxi rank while a friend was wounded. A week later, Rogers Ntsizi was shot and killed in Braelyn Extension.
No arrests have been made by the police so far and both cases are being investigated by the provincial police organised crime unit.
South African National Taxi Association president Noluntu Mahashe was shot and wounded at her home earlier this year.
“The reward makes sense because Maphuma was the first victim to fall from a fresh wave of attacks aimed at his association so if the police can arrest someone in his case, then it might lead to more arrests of people involved,” Mahashe said. — firstname.lastname@example.org