Cape Town - A heroic bus driver died at the wheel while desperately trying to get his passengers out of harm’s way in an attempted robbery in Philippi East.
The bus crashed through five shacks and left a swathe of destruction in its wake.
But his passengers hailed Golden Arrow bus driver Tspeho Seqhala as a hero for his brave bid to save their lives at the cost of his own.
A mass of rubble, clothing, shoes and broken furniture bore silent testament to the disaster about 2am on Friday, when Seqhala made his desperate dash for safety, in spite of being shot in the kidney.
When he died at the wheel, the out-of-control bus crashed into the shacks in Mgqwangi, miraculously killing no one, although five residents were injured.
All nine passengers on the bus emerged unscathed from the attempted robbery ordeal and the subsequent crash.
Seqhala was driving workers from the V&A Waterfront home to Khayelitsha when a group of three or four men stoned the bus in an apparent robbery attempt. When Seqhala refused to stop, the attackers fired a shot through the side of the bus, fatally hitting him.
Golden Arrow spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke praised Seqhala’s bravery.
“He is a hero who lost his life on the job. Obviously it was an opportunistic crime resulting in a senseless death… cowards came out of nowhere and it would be difficult to know what to do in that situation.”
As Seqhala lost consciousness, the bus veered from the road and crashed into homes in Mgqwangi.
“We were sleeping and then we just heard loud noises… I heard my sister-in-law shout, ‘Nomava!’” said a distraught Nomava Ngyama, whose shack was destroyed.
“And my mom was screaming. I thought they were all dead… When we came outside my brother was under the bus. He was crawling to get out… my sister-in-law was trying to pull him out.”
Her brother was seriously injured and is being treated at Groote Schuur Hospital.
A shocked Mgyama said she was lucky to escape injury, but her belongings were destroyed.
The scene on Friday resembled a war zone, and men were attempting to rebuild and salvage what they could.
Resident Nomthandazo Sityoshwana, whose foot was hurt, described how the bus narrowly missed her and her nine-year-old daughter: “I was sleeping and then I just remember seeing the bus passing my bed.”
She thought she was dreaming, then instinctively rushed her daughter out of their shack.
“Everything is broken… most of my belongings are destroyed. I have nothing,” Sityoshwana said.
On the scene on Friday, ward councillor Mzuzile Mpondwana said the city had sent materials to the area for immediate rebuilding. Golden Arrow inspectors had also visited the site.
“These residents are used to shack fires but not to destruction of this kind to their property,” Mpondwana said.
In her home, centimetres away from where the out-of-control bus came to a standstill, Zoliswa Soludela said a loud crash and bright lights woke her family in the early hours.
“We saw light from the bus and thought it was a fire outside… People were crying outside and when we opened the door and saw the Golden Arrow bus, the passengers came out and helped carry the driver out. He passed away shortly after that.”
Seqhala’s family in Mfuleni were too distraught to speak to Weekend Argus on Friday. They were leaving for Worcester.
Dyke said Golden Arrow would work with the police to bring the assailants to justice.
Local police said on Friday there had been no progress in arresting the robbers, but that the investigation was contining. - Weekend Argus