Durban -

A group of elderly women were traumatised on Wednesday morning when a mob of homeless men tried to hijack a bus they were travelling in north of Verulam.

The 16 women, all older than 60, were on their daily route to the Verulam Day and Frail Care Centre from Cottonlands village, about 12km from Verulam.

The incident happened soon after they left Cottonlands.

Recounting events, bus driver Thulani Mhlongo said he came across between 40 and 60 young men standing in the road. “I had to make a choice: Do I stop? Do I drive over two or three of them? I decided to stop as I feared some of the ladies getting injured,” he said.

“About 10 of the men then came to my door, switched off the bus and took the key from the ignition.”

A horde of men – he estimated them to be in their 20s and 30s – rushed into the bus. Although he was shaken up, he said: “The women and their safety was my concern.”

He said the men were violent, sweaty and there was “an unbearable stench” when they came into the bus.

“A struggle ensued between them and one lady. They took her cellphone and about R40. They also took my cellphone,” he said.

He said he managed to reason with one of the men, which helped to calm things down.

“He told me they had been delivered to the area from Durban by metro police a while back. I got a sense that they wanted me to take them back to Durban,” he said. “I told them I was not going to Verulam but to a nearby village.”

Eventually the group let the bus go.

The Mercury