Motive for ‘awful’ bus attack unclear

Published Sep 16, 2015


Cape Town - Two passengers burnt to death and 32 people were injured, including two children, after an Intercape bus was petrol-bombed on Tuesday night.

While the motive for the attack was still unclear late on Tuesday night, murder and attempted murder cases have been opened, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said.

Three petrol bombs were thrown at the bus, she said.

The bus was on its way to the Eastern Cape, travelling on Onverwacht Road in the Strand to collect more passengers at a nearby garage, witnesses said.

By the time emergency services arrived it was too late to save two men. They had burnt to death.

“There was no protest in the area. The driver said it was a petrol bomb. It was a double decker and the entire bus burnt out,” Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Layne said.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said 32 people were injured.

“Numerous people were standing around the bus and some were being cared for by locals from a nearby informal settlement. Emergency services joined forces to set up a local triage area.

“Four people sustained serious injuries and were rushed to nearby hospitals. Twenty-eight others were treated for minor to moderate smoke inhalation and burn wounds,” he said.

“Intercape confirms an incident in which one of its coaches was petrol-bombed in Strand, outside Cape Town. The incident is being investigated and the motive for this horrendous attack is not yet clear.

“There appears to have been no unrest in the area at the time. Intercape will provide an update as soon as possible.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this shocking incident,” the company said in a statement.

Intercape bus drivers have been on strike since the beginning of August. They have demanded the company reinstate hostesses who had been retrenched, which meant that drivers have had to do their jobs as well.

National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Likhona Cita said it would be surprised if any of its members had a role in Tuesday night’s tragedy, as they were on the brink of ending the strike.

The law should take its course if any union members were involved in the attack, she said.

A witness, JJ Maxeke, said: “People were screaming and jumping out of the windows of the bus. People also broke windows to escape.”

Lwandle resident Sizeke Ntsholo said: “Two women ran into my house screaming they were burnt. I covered one of them with a blanket and called the ambulance.

“Other people ran around and didn’t know where they were going.”

Lwandle resident Victor Luhwali said he rushed to the area after he had heard sirens.

“When I arrived here, there were a whole lot of emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines. The bus is completely gutted.

“It is so sad that lives have been lost and people have been injured. There are many onlookers around, but the emergency services have the situation under control.”

Tthe City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “It’s madness. It’s just too horrible. This is a long distance bus…and somewhere there is a mother or daughter or sister waiting for these two men who burnt to death.

“Whatever the motives of this deranged person of persons are that threw this petrol-bomb, it’s too awful for words and I hope SAPS (South African Police Service) catch them quickly.”

Acting mayor Brett Herron said: “We grieve with the families of the deceased during this time of loss. We condemn this criminal act in the strongest terms.

“I would like to appeal to residents to come forward should they have any related information which could lead to the arrest of those responsible for this criminal act.

“We would like to thank the emergency services and the South African Police Service for their swift action and appeal to them to work tirelessly until those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.”

Cape Times and ANA

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