Taxi violence surge

Robin Wade from Grassy Park was shot and killed on the corner of Joe Marks Boulevard and Sonata Street on Thursday.

The family of Robin Wade, 30, a taxi driver, from Grassy Park, who was shot dead in Steenberg last week, will miss hearing his “infectious” laugh.

Mr Wade was driving his taxi when he was killed on November 16. His death comes just six days after a separate shooting also in Steenberg.

The family said he was very jovial, friendly, always cracking jokes, always laughing. Everybody who talks about him always mentions his laugh first, they said.

His cousin Lisa Marie Clarke said: “We have been reflecting a lot on Robin since the tragedy and ‘what ifs’ do come to mind – what if he wasn’t driving that morning? We are, however, comforted by the way in which he chose to spend his last weeks on this earth and how he spoke around the family. Robin had been going to church again and spoke on positive progressions. “The night before he died, he mentioned that he felt there is something better out there for him – he didn’t want to drive a taxi anymore and was waiting on a call-back from another job. Robin couldn’t be idle for days or weeks on end, so he wanted to carry on driving a taxi while sending out CV or until he got the call (for a job).”

She said, his uncle Randal Solomons, sat up with him the night before he died. “Randal was sleeping over at their house that night.” Ms Clarke said: “Robin’s mother has been crying non-stop. The rest of the family is emotional but trying to keep strong is our main aim just to get Robin buried so that closure can be had.

“We have been crying in broken periods throughout the day since we got the tragic news but we are keeping our focus – we’re focusing on getting Robin’s body released and planning a funeral.”

Mr Wade’s mother Yolanda, dad Anthony, younger brother Matthew, older brother Brent and his uncle Randal all saw him the morning of his passing, said Ms Clarke.

His mother said: “That morning he woke up earlier than usual. He was playing two songs on his cellphone over and over again. Hillsong United’s Oceans and, Hillsong United’s Amazing Grace from the album Broken Vessels.”

His father said: “He told us that he decided not to wait for his lift to pick him up for work (he gets picked up every morning by his colleagues). That morning he wanted to walk. Randal offered to drive him because it is a far walk but he insisted he wanted to walk from his Grassy Park home to his route in Steenberg. Two hours later two of his colleague came to bring us the tragic news. The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

When asked if they had a suspicion why he was murdered, Mr Wade senior said: “We do not have our own narrative painted – we have no idea why Robin’s life was taken. He went to work and he came home. He had a job like everyone else.”

Steenberg police confirmed the incident. Warrant Officer John Bartlet said it is alleged Mr Wade picked up two male passengers in Sonata Street. “While he was driving one of the men sat in front, took a firearm and shot the driver in the head and left shoulder. After the shooting the suspects ran away in the direction of Sonata Street,” said Warrant Officer Bartlet.

Mr Wade was declared dead on the scene. The motive for the killing has still not been determined.

On Friday November 10 at 9.55pm three men were shot, one fatally, in Klavier Avenue in Steenberg. Warrant Officer Bartlet said it is alleged that the three men were sitting inside a taxi in front of a house in Klavier Avenue waiting for another passenger, on their way to a work function. “While waiting, three unknown men, wearing hoody tops and scarves, approached the taxi from Sonata Street, surrounded the taxi and fired several shots at the victims. They ran away in the direction of Botma Street. The three were were taken to Retreat Community Health Centre but 23-year-old Lavender Hill resident Lawrence Frey was declared dead with a gunshot wound to his chest,” said Warrant Officer Bartlet.

The other two were treated at Groote Schuur Hospital.

A reliable source within the local taxi industry, who did not want to be named in fear of retaliation, said the shootings are believed to be gang and drug related.

“The owner of the taxi Robin was driving is owned by a drug boss but he had nothing to do with drugs or gangs. Our taxi drivers are just doing their jobs, leave them out of the drug and gang issues. We will not tolerate our drivers being shot one by one. The day after Robin’s shooting (Friday November 17) 140 drivers drove to eight drug lords in Lavender Hill, Seawinds, Montague Village, Steenberg and Hillview to tell them not to attack the taxi drivers.,” said the source.

There has been no arrests in these cases. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Marc Lucas at Steenberg police at 021 702 9000.