Another eThekwini bus driver shot dead
Durban - Another bus driver was shot dead in an apparent ambush on Friday morning, bringing the number of killings to three in as many months.
All the drivers worked for Tansnat, the city's contracted bus company run by the Gcaba family.
The driver, en-route to the city, was shot by criminals pretending to be passengers.
His death happened two days after another driver, Orbet Zulu, was shot at his KwaMashu home on Tuesday evening.
Zulu, 58, died instantly while his injured wife was recovering from the hospital. It is alleged that heavily armed men stormed Zulu's house and started shooting. Two months ago, another bus driver, aged 50, was shot in KwaMashu opposite the Metro police building.
Police spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala, said charges of murder and attempted murder of Zulu and his wife were being investigated by KwaMashu SAPS.
She said the matter regarding a 50-year-old driver killed on January 27, was still under investigation.
“The two incidents are isolated. The motive for the killing is unknown. Regarding Tuesday's incident, the victim was attacked while at home,” said Gwala.
She was unable to confirm the latest killing.
While Gwala claimed that the incidents were isolated, several bus drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their lives, said the attacks were related to a business dispute.
A bus driver, who is also a member of the South African Transport Workers Union (Satawu), said the drivers were divided because some wanted the municipality to take over the buses while others remained loyal to Tansnat Bus Company owned by Mandla Gcaba – who also ruled the taxi industry.
Another driver said his colleagues were scared to talk openly about the attacks.
"Last year, a Satawu provincial chairperson Thulani Ngcamu, also a bus driver, was killed at his home in uMlazi for fighting for employees rights to be recognised. He was a shop steward, a very vocal member of the union. He was ambushed in cold blood at his home in December.
We are scared to approach the management on these issues. I pray for safety before each shift. We do not even discuss it among ourselves, because we do not know who to share our concerns with. The level of trust between employees and Tansnat is extremely low. We feel like we are not protected by our bosses," he said.
In September, a group of angry bus drivers downed tools for four days complaining that promises were repeatedly made to them, but nothing came of them.
They wanted the eThekwini municipality to manage their buses again because they no longer wanted to work for Tansnat. An official told them to do as they were told, leave work or be killed.
Tansnat chief operating officer Vickesh Maharaj, however, said the labour dispute between workers and the company had long been resolved during meetings.
He said Tansnat was also waiting for the outcome of the investigation from the authorities. Maharaj confirmed that there was one driver shot while on duty.
"We are concerned about the safety of our drivers and passengers and have reported the matter to authorities to increase the enforcement presence on our routes. Other incidents have not been at work. The authorities are investigating, and we have tasked our health and safety committee to deal with the matter," said Maharaj.
He added that the company has met with shop steward committees and unions to discuss the killings.