Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
Fatal shooting of tow truck driver a ‘warning from a rival’
Police must stop monopoly in industry, says association chief
THE MURDER of tow truck driver Michael Correia was meant as a deadly warning to anyone who dares to challenge the monopoly in Cape Town’s towing industry, and the select few who hold power, the South African Auto Repairer and Salvage Association has charged.
Len Smith, chairman of the South African Auto Repairer and Salvage Association ( Saarsa), called a press conference at the Island Auto Panel shop, where Correia was employed, in Paarden Island yesterday.
Correia was shot seven times on Wednesday night, allegedly by members of a rival towing company. It was his second day on the job. His body was found on Marine Drive near Milnerton.
Police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk said yesterday there have been no new developments in the case.
According to witnesses at the scene of the shooting, the tow truck driver’s body was found when another driver went to his car to offer him food. The shooting took place directly below one of the city’s cameras.
The city’s security and safety director, Richard Bosman, said he was checking whether any footage was available.
The tow truck industry has been embroiled in a war for the past two months, with one faction allegedly trying to seize full control. Cases of assault and intimidation have reportedly increased in frequency in the lead-up to Correia’s murder.
Smith said yesterday Saarsa’s priority was to make sure Correia’s family was taken care of, and to bring his murderers to justice.
“We are deeply saddened that an innocent person had to die. We believe he has a child and we will assist his family where we can. We will not let this man’s blood be split for nothing. We are calling on all authorities to take action to end the monopoly and bring justice for the victims of these attacks,” he said.
The war is a result of alleged preferential treatment by insurance companies, and attempts to squeeze smaller companies out of the market, according to Smith.
“The insurance companies are responsible for assigning tow trucks to callouts. However, they are purposely choosing the bigger companies and ignoring the smaller companies to create and maintain a monopoly. The smaller companies are struggling to carry on, but that’s not enough for those behind the monopoly, who are willing to use violence and even murder to stamp out the competition.”
Smith denied the issue was race-related.
“The perception of black-owned companies being attacked by large white-owned companies is wrong. Many of the victims, who are also members of Saarsa, are white. This issue is about big companies trying to eliminate smaller companies by any means necessary. This is not about race.”
Chris Olieslager, owner of Urban Towing, said he was still in shock after the murder. “We are all scared. No one is safe, but we have to be out there every day to earn a living and take care of our families. More efficient regulations in the towing industry are clearly long overdue.”