Graduate dies after falling out of moving taxi during alleged robbery

24 December 2020 - 13:28
By shonisani tshikalange AND Shonisani Tshikalange
A young graduate has died during an alleged robbery on board a moving taxi. File photo.
Image: 123RF / canjoena A young graduate has died during an alleged robbery on board a moving taxi. File photo.

Khayakazi Tapile couldn’t hold back her tears as she spoke about her best friend, who died after she fell out of a moving taxi during an alleged robbery on a highway in Port Elizabeth.

The 21-year-old is not being named yet, as police have yet to make a formal identification, after contacting her family members.

Tapile, speaking to TimesLIVE, said a search had begun for her friend after she had boarded a taxi near a shopping centre on Wednesday. Someone else they knew had raised the alarm on social media.

“She felt that something was not right and made a phone call. Her other friend does mention that her phone got tossed out of the window once they realised she was on the phone. That is when we started looking for her,” said Tapile.

Eastern Cape police said detectives at the Mount Road police station are searching for a taxi driver and his conductor after two women were allegedly robbed by them, resulting in the death of one of the victims.

Police spokesperson Col Priscilla Naidu said a case of robbery was under investigation and an inquest docket was opened in relation to the woman’s death.

“Her name is withheld until a formal identification is done,” said Naidu.

It is alleged that the two women, who were 21 and 24 years old, boarded a taxi in Cape Road on Wednesday, she said.

“They were the only two passengers. At some point during their ride, they realised that the driver had taken a different route. He joined the M4 freeway from Mount Road. When he was questioned, the women were robbed of their personal belongings — handbags, money, cellphone and so on.

“The 21-year-old female jumped to the back seat of the taxi. It is further alleged that in her traumatic state, she opened the back window and jumped from the moving taxi.”

Naidu said she died on impact.

The discovery of her body on the highway caused an accident.

Naidu explained: “The body of the woman was lying on the M4, Port Elizabeth outbound. A [motorist in a] bakkie, travelling in that direction, noticed the body on the road and braked, causing a heavy-duty truck to hit him from behind. The truck had jack-knifed. No-one sustained injuries in this incident.”

The other passenger was found unharmed.

“The 24-year-old woman was dropped off near New Brighton. She sought public assistance and reported the matter to New Brighton police,” said Naidu.

Tapile is in mourning for her soft-hearted friend.

“We went to school together and lived together for three years. We did a lot of things together. It really hurts because she doesn’t deserve this. [She] was not a fighter, she was not even the type to say rude things.”

Tapile said the freshly graduated student from Nelson Mandela University was deeply affected by sociopolitical issues, including the Uyinene Mrwetyana murder.

“She was a person who was a human-rights activist and was so pro-women. It just breaks my heart.”

Tapile wants to see the culprits jailed.

“I want to bring so much awareness to this, so that the best prosecutor gets appointed to this case.”