/ 8 September 2009

Killing of Santaco official ‘not related to BRT’

The killing of a South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) official was not related to taxi industry tension around the roll-out of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Gauteng transport minister Bheki Nkosi said on Tuesday.

”This unfortunate incident that happened, in our view, is not related to BRT,” he told media in Johannesburg.

He was referring to the murder of Santaco deputy president Mthuthuzeli Molefe on Friday.

”Once the incident happened, we checked through all our structures and departments. We are satisfied, at this stage, that it is not BRT-related.”

He said police were on top of the issue. ”We will see from their investigation what they can [get].”

Nkosi said the incident had not threatened negotiations with Santaco on the BRT, which began rolling out in Johannesburg earlier this month.

”We know and hope that they would come back to the table.”

Nkosi said the City of Tshwane had done a costing of the BRT project and should begin implementation at the end of 2009.

”They will begin to roll out towards the end of this year … We hope that from the lessons that we’ve drawn in the Johannesburg process, we will be able to smoothly implement BRT in Tshwane.”

Nkosi said during the roll-out of the BRT system in Johannesburg, the provincial government had played a ”supportive and regulative role” in ensuring buses had permits and licence disks on time.

It had also invested R1-billion in the project.

Security measures were also put in place by the department but it was hoped these would be reduced at some stage. ”It wouldn’t have been like that had we not received threats from those in the taxi industry.”

Nevertheless, he said security measures would continue ”as long as the security threat analysis indicates that it is there,” he said.

He said besides the public presence of metro police, the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force, details of other security measures were ”not available for public consumption”.

‘Our task team is working to catch whoever is responsible’
On Monday, Vaal Rand police said a task team was working ”24/7” to catch the gunmen who murdered Molefe

”No arrests have been made yet but our task team is working 24/7 to catch whoever is responsible,” Inspector Mzimkhulu Mthimkhulu said.

Molefe (57) was riding his motorbike on Friday evening when he was shot 20m away from his home. He died at the scene.

Police found six cartridges of a 9mm gun scattered around the scene, with all his belongings still with him.

The suspects fled the scene in a ”silver-grey” car.

Santaco and government were still in talks over the taxi industry’s role in BRT projects after the taxi group raised concerns that BRT’s introduction would affect the livelihoods of taxi operators. — Sapa