Alleged Cape Town taxi hitman charged with four murders
An alleged taxi hitman appeared in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Tuesday charged with the murder of four people at the Joe Slovo taxi rank in Milnerton.
Mbongeni Songo, 41, allegedly shot and killed Simphiwe Mpume, Mkululi Mkhosana, Anga Mkhosana and Asanda Sipondo at 9am last Wednesday. He also faces three attempted murder charges.
The Western Cape police taxi task team arrested Songo on Monday at his home in Nyanga, where they also found an allegedly unlicensed firearm.
Police spokesperson Brig Novela Potelwa said investigators believe the Joe Slovo shooting was part of a wider conflict which has seen taxi hitmen killing more than 80 people in Cape Town this year.
The violence is the result of contestation over routes operated by the rival Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta).
On July 9, the Western Cape government mediated talks between the rivals in an attempt to end the conflict in which commuters were deliberately targeted by gunmen.
Despite an agreement signed by both organisations, which included commitments to a ceasefire and a range of measures aimed at normalising relations between drivers, violence resumed a few days later.
Commuters in Cape Town have limited public transport options after Metrorail services failed to restart after the 2020 hard lockdown due to mass looting of cables, substations and other infrastructure.
The rail network was already on its knees as a result of arson attacks which destroyed about half of Western Cape’s train fleet.
This led to taxi associations having a near monopoly on public transport, with Golden Arrow and MyCiTi buses the only alternatives.
However, buses have also come under attack by arsonists and hitmen, and instability within the taxi associations due to leaders being killed or dying has further diminished the chances of resolving the conflict through agreement or mediation.
Songo’s case was postponed until October 4 for a bail application.