The 12 victims who were killed in the mass shooting along the R74 between Weenen and Colenso on July 21 have been identified.
The majority of the deceased were young taxi drivers who had attended the funeral of their taxi boss.
The victims are: Wiseman Mondli Gasa (27), Zito Domingos Vilanculos (43), Siphosenkosi Tshabangu (23), Reanetsie Hopewell Lebetsa (18), Xolani Lucky Mncube (38), Vukile Ruben Dlomo (34), Sbonelo Innocent Nzama (24), Moses Madi (34), Vusumuzi Gumede (28), Macdonald Bafana Skhosana (25), Hemilton Bhekumuzi Nkonyane (25) and Mdumiseni Sithole (31).
11 people died at the scene and another succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
Five others are lucky to be alive after surviving the hail of bullets. Three of them were hospitalised and later discharged. Two were uninjured and treated for shock at the scene.
Our sister paper, the Midrand Reporter, reported yesterday (August 7) that some of the taxi drivers who attended the memorial service agreed to speak on condition of anonymity and claimed that the death of their colleagues was a big mistake.
Initial story: Breaking news: 11 dead in mass shooting along the R74, KZN
They allege that the gunmen who killed the taxi drivers were linked to taxi boss Mr Mthembu’s murder, which took place at Swazi Inn in Ivory Park, Johannesburg, on July 11.
Mthembu was shot and killed with two other men while seated in his brand-new Toyota Quantum.
“The gunmen were looking for Mthembu’s right-hand man. He changed vehicles with the deceased before returning back to Gauteng. It was a big mistake and innocent people were killed. We are not afraid because we have nothing to do with the conflict. This was a very sad mistake. Those boys were still young and didn’t know anything. They were just going to bury their boss,” claimed the taxi drivers.
Despite police implementing a 72-hour action plan after the R74 shooting, no arrests have been made.
Brigadier Vish Naidoo has commented on the action plan.
“The 72-hour action plan is not a deadline for arrests, but a plan to mobilise national resources in order for opportunities in tracking suspects not to be lost. This plan has a 100% success rate. This is a very sensitive case.”