kzn police officer killed

Photo: Pixabay

Taxi association hitman gets life behind bars after high court ruling

The Western Cape high court have well and truly thrown the book at the killer.

kzn police officer killed

Photo: Pixabay

The Western Cape high court has ruled to lock up a taxi hitman and throw away the key on Wednesday. 

Phindile Velem, 43, was sentenced to two life sentences for the murders of  Maliphakame Magxwalisa and Nkosithandile Pango in February and September 2018 respectively, and was also punished for a long list of other crimes. 

The killings

Maqxwalisa was killed after an altercation with Velem in Hout Bay and sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the back as he fled towards the OK Mini Market. Another taxi owner and member of the Hout Bay Taxi Association, Themba Liwani, was also shot in the back three times but lived to tell the tale about the incident. 

The alleged hit man escaped justice for months following that incident though, and on the night of 13 September 2018, he claimed another victim. Pango was shot on Delft main road and died of his injuries. 

The two murders are both supposedly linked to conflict within the taxi associations regarding the issuing of licenses and routes, as well as money disputes.

It is not yet clear who ordered the hits, or whether the killings form part of a broader issue with crime within the Western Cape’s maleaguered taxi associations.

He will also have to return to court in April to be tried for the murder of another victim associated with the taxi associations who was shot and killed near the Bellville taxi rank.

“Furthermore, Phindile Velem’s next court appearance is scheduled at the Bellville Magistrate’s court on 08 April 2020 on one murder charge and two attempted murder charges relating to a murder of a CATA member at the Bellville Taxi Rank.”

2018 arrest

Velem evaded the law for several months following the hits, but he reached the end of his rope in Stellenbosch when he was arrested in possession of illegal firearms.

“On 3 November 2018 near Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, the accused was found in possession of a 9mm Parabellum firearm and a FEG Luger model M80 semi-automatic pistol with several rounds of ammunition. He was unlawful in the possession of the firearm and ammunition,” said Westen Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk.

He was subsequently charged with the murders while detained behind bars.

Comprehensive sentencing

Velem was sentenced to see out two life sentences behind bars for he two murders, as well as a plethora of other charges including:

  • 8 years for attempted murder of Liwani
  • Two separate three year sentences for possession of a firearm without a licence,
  • Three operate 18 month sentences for unlawful possession of ammunition,
  • 15 years for unlawful possession of a semi-automatic weapon 

Fortunately for him, he was acquitted of a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances. He must be thrilled with that respite.

“The Western Cape SAPS management has applauded the sterling work done by both the prosecution and detection teams. The conviction and sentencing of Velem will send a stern warning that crime does not pay,” said van Wyk.