Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Fa­tal shoot­ing of tow truck driver a ‘warn­ing from a ri­val’

Po­lice must stop mo­nop­oly in in­dus­try, says as­so­ci­a­tion chief

- KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

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.”

 ?? PIC­TURES: JA­SON BOUD ?? IN SHOCK: Tow truck company owner Chris Olies­lager has promised to look after the fam­ily of slain em­ployee Michael Cor­reia.
PIC­TURES: JA­SON BOUD IN SHOCK: Tow truck company owner Chris Olies­lager has promised to look after the fam­ily of slain em­ployee Michael Cor­reia.
 ??  ?? LEN SMITH: Chair­man of the South African Auto Re­pairer and Sal­vage As­so­ci­a­tion at the Is­land Auto Panel shop where Cor­reia was killed.
LEN SMITH: Chair­man of the South African Auto Re­pairer and Sal­vage As­so­ci­a­tion at the Is­land Auto Panel shop where Cor­reia was killed.

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