The life of a driver of Tshwane Bus Services (TBS) came under threat in the early hours of yesterday (Friday) morning when he was held at gunpoint by an unknown perpetrator who also ordered commuters to get off the bus before setting it alight in Olievenhoutbosch.
The incident took place just before 6am, according to MMC for roads and transport Katlego Mathebe.
She said the perpetrator, who was armed with a gun, boarded the bus pretending to be a commuter.
All of a sudden he ordered all occupants to alight from the bus and pointed a gun at the driver, who eventually escaped unharmed.
Mathebe said the perpetrator went on to burn the bus to ashes with the assistance of “his people”.
“The driver is doing well. He is receiving medical attention and counselling. And, thank goodness there are no fatalities. We are continuing to follow up on the lead,” she said.
She suspected that the incident happened because “the illegal strikers were called in (by the municipality) to come and receive their letters of intention to terminate their services today”.
“We are aware that they have been on an illegal strike and when we resumed operation (last week), they refused to take on their shifts,” Mathebe said.
Those behind the unprotected strike have been associated with the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which has been at loggerheads with the municipality over salary increments.
Samwu has, however, consistently denied that its members are on strike.
Since the strike began in July there had been several violent incidents, including torching of municipal vehicles, disruption of service delivery, such as refuse collection, and withdrawal of buses.
To date, the City has dismissed more than 120 workers for participating in the unlawful strike.
The bus torching comes a week after another incident where three TBS buses were vandalised after the City decided to resume buses operation since July.
The three buses were damaged in Belle Ombre, Pretoria North, and one outside the C De Wet bus depot in the Pretoria CBD and its perpetrators were arrested.
Despite the recent attacks, the City vowed to forge ahead with ferrying commuters, saying that the security cluster, which includes support from South African Police Service, Tshwane Metro Police Department, crime intelligence, and private security, have put in place measures to oversee the efficient running of bus operations.
Mathebe said: “I condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. Such criminal acts do not only undermine our efforts to provide reliable and affordable public transport to our commuters, but also threaten the safety of dedicated bus drivers and commuters.”
She called on the security cluster to continue to do more to ensure that the perpetrators face the full force of the law and to restore order.
“Over the past weeks, the City has been working closely with the security cluster and devising strategies to ensure that we get our buses back on the road to serve residents. We have recorded a gradual increase in our TBS shifts, from 52 of 160 last week Friday, to 107 today, with A Re Yeng operating at 100% capacity,” she said.
She said the City would offer the necessary support services to the affected bus driver and temporarily suspend the Olievenhoutbosch shift until the SAPS completes its investigations.
“The City will continue to forge ahead to provide safe and reliable public transport to the people of Tshwane,” Mathebe said.