Driver suspended after bully attack on bus

Crime & Courts

Pretoria -

A 12-year-old Grade 8 schoolboy from Wolmer in Pretoria North is sporting two black eyes and bruises after being assaulted by a 16-year-old on a Tshwane Metro bus during a school run.

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WP Nel (12) who was allegedly assaulted by a fellow pupil on a Tshwane Metro bus in full view of the bus driver during a drive home from school.29/01/2014 WP Nel (12) who was allegedly assaulted by a fellow pupil on a Tshwane Metro bus in full view of the bus driver during a drive home from school.
Picture: Phill Magakoe

While the bully has apparently not been disciplined, the Tshwane Metro Council said it would suspend the driver from Thursday pending an investigation into allegations that he did nothing to break up the fight.

The boys attend Suiderberg School, which boasts on a sign at the entrance: “Suiderberg School/Skool welcomes you. We are a safe school. Guns, Knives, Drugs, Gambling, Fighting, Any Weapons Not Allowed.”

The mother of the younger boy, who only started high school this year, said the family was enraged by what had happened on the bus, which the two boys boarded outside the school on Monday afternoon.

Her son was now too scared to go back to school and face the older boy or his friends, she said.

Allegations have been made that not only did the driver – who was the only adult on the bus at the time – not intervene, but the 16-year-old paid him to stop at a bus stop along the route and wait until he had finished beating up the younger boy.

Geraldine Potgieter allowed the Pretoria News to take pictures of her son, WB Nel, to show his black eyes, and also supplied a picture taken on Monday when he got home.

She said WB had been on his way home after school on the Pretoria North (4) bus – which he had been catching every day since schools opened earlier this month – when the older boy, who wanted money from him, apparently told the younger boy to sit at the back of the bus. When WB refused, he was allegedly dragged by the teenager to the back of the bus where, he said, the older boy hit him with his fists and a wooden plank.

Potgieter alleges the assault on her son lasted a long time and had been carried out in full view of the bus driver, who had continued driving as if nothing was amiss.

Two girl prefects tried to stop the fight yet the driver, the only adult on the bus, did nothing, she said.

“There is no way he can even try and say he didn’t see or hear anything.

“He must have seen that boy drag my son to the back and heard all the commotion.”

Potgieter also alleges that the driver – after accepting a payment – stopped two stops away from her son’s drop-off point.

The older boy dragged WB out of the bus, assaulted him, and then got back on the bus, she claims.

The bus drove off, leaving WB to find his way home.

Tshwane Metro spokesman Blessing Manale said the city had ordered an urgent investigation.

“With the preliminary information at hand, we have enough grounds to suspend the driver pending a full and inclusive investigation,” Manale said.

He added that the driver faced allegations of accepting a bribe and misconduct for failing to assist a passenger.

“Considering that the fight involved children, we are taking the allegations seriously,” Manale said.

Potgieter said: “That boy told (WB) if he gets on the bus again he will kill him.

“How can I even allow my son to get on the same bus?”

Potgieter said her appeal to the school had fallen on deaf ears.

“The school simply said they can’t help as there is too much red tape.”

The Gauteng Department of Education told the Pretoria News it would send a team of officials to the school to get a full understanding of the matter.

Potgieter said she had also opened a case at the Hercules police station.

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