Police sergeant among 43 suspects arrested for Gauteng taxi violence

Police have arrested 43 people in connection with taxi violence.

A police sergeant was arrested in connection with taxi violence in Gauteng.

A police sergeant was arrested in connection with taxi violence in Gauteng. Gallo Images

The dock of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court is expected to be packed on Monday when 43 people, including a police officer, appear on numerous charges – including murder – relating to taxi violence.

They were arrested after shots were fired at a filling station in Botha Avenue, Irene, on Wednesday, and police discovered a man’s body.

“Preliminary investigations reveal the man was part of two groups that were involved in a fight. They parked their vehicles and allegedly used stones and knobkieries to attack one another while one of them fired several shots during the altercation,” said police spokesperson, Brigadier Brenda Muridili.

It is understood that when police arrived, the groups fled in different directions on foot and in vehicles. Two people who were in a critical condition had already been transported to hospital.

Eyewitnesses pointed out the dead man.

Muridili said:

With the help of eyewitnesses, the shooter was traced to a nearby shopping centre. He was found in possession of a firearm and two rounds of ammunition.

“He was placed under arrest, and after questioning, it was discovered that the man is a police sergeant stationed at Sandringham police station. The case was then handed over to the Provincial Taxi Violence Combat Team for investigation.”

Officers were deployed to conduct patrols.

On Thursday, just after midday, police responded to a number of taxis that were parked on the corner of Botha Avenue and Alexandra Road.

Car chase

“When officers approached the scene, where shots were also reported to have been fired, the minibus taxi [drivers] drove off in different directions,” Muridili said.

One of the officers gave chase and followed a white minibus taxi with no number plates. The officer called for backup and the intersection of Alexander Road and Jean Avenue was blocked off.

“Before the vehicle was cornered, the occupants of the minibus began shooting at police and police retaliated. The tyre of the taxi was shot but the driver continued driving, facing oncoming traffic,” Muridili said.

Officers forced the vehicle to stop. The three occupants then fled on foot, but they were later found in a nearby house.

A further 37 people were arrested when police gave chase after another minibus and a sedan vehicle on the R21 South. Both vehicles were stopped near the Olifantsfontein off-ramp.

Police added:

The vehicles were searched and three firearms with ammunition and knobkieries were recovered. Two of the firearms are licenced, but they will still be sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for ballistic testing.

All 43 people will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, and public violence.

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela hailed the arrests.

“The swift response of the police is indicative of our endeavours to continue implementing the recommendations of the…Commission of Inquiry on Taxi Violence in Gauteng,” Mawela added.

Mawela said the Anti-Taxi Violence Unit and the Taxi Violence Combat Teams were starting to yield positive results.