10 key events leading to Mamelodi bus violence

2015-07-03 12:03
Angry commuters protest in Mamelodi against the changes in the transport route in the area. (Supplied, News24 Correspondent)

Angry commuters protest in Mamelodi against the changes in the transport route in the area. (Supplied, News24 Correspondent)

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A Putco bus was shot at in Mamelodi outside Pretoria on Friday morning, with the driver reportedly killed and several passengers wounded.

Here is a timeline of events leading up to the conflict:

1) June 29 - Putco announces that it will not be renewing three of its contracts with the Gauteng department of transport in parts of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Sedibeng municipalities as of Wednesday July 1.

At the time, Putco's Managing Director Franco Pisapia said: "We are confident that the Gauteng department of roads and transport has prioritised a seamless change of bus operators in order to ensure that South African commuters in these areas will get to work, school and back home again with minimum disruption as of July 1, 2015.

2) June 30 - Putco heads to the Labour Court. It wants the Gauteng transport department and its new service provider, Autopax, to take over staff who worked on the cancelled contracts.

“We are asking the court to give guidance on the matter,” said Putco executive director Thys Heyns.

The matter is postponed to Thursday, July 2.

3) July 1 - It is not a smooth start for Autopax as some taxi operators prevent buses from operating in Mamelodi outside Pretoria. Scores of commuters are left stranded around the township.

Taxi operators inform commuters they are not to board the Autopax buses and should use taxis instead.

4) July 1 - Later on Monday, Tshwane metro police say a meeting is taking place in Mamelodi surrounding the transport issues. Officials of SA Police Service are also part of the meeting.

5) July 2 - Putco returns to the Labour Court. Prior to the proceedings, Autopax CEO Nathi Khena tells the media that they are willing to employ the former Putco staff.

"We are willing to take them on. What we are not willing to do is to take them with the burden and the responsibilities that were supposed to be dealt with by Putco," Khena says.

6) July 2 - The violence continues in Mamelodi with reports of buses being pelted with stones. Gauteng transport department spokesperson, Octavia Mamabolo says 19 buses left the depot in the morning under the supervision of law enforcement officials. Three of them are however damaged. A meeting is scheduled.

7) July 2 - The Labour Court hears that if the Putco drivers are not absorbed by Autopax, this will result in them being retrenched. Submissions by Putco and AutoPax's legal representatives differed on whether the latter could be obliged to employ all affected Putco employees, since it did not involve a take-over, but rather Putco giving up certain routes. Judgment was reserved.

8) July 3 - Mamelodi taxi operators continue to reject the presence of Autopax buses in the area. They began barricading roads in the township with burning tyres from early in the morning.

9) July 3 - The situation escalates as a bus driver is reportedly shot dead and at least one commuter is injured.

Reports indicate that shots were fired at a Putco bus carrying passengers. The bus was allegedly attacked by four men in a car about 5km from the intersection of Solomon Mahlangu Drive and Pretoria Road. The bus commuter is hit by a bullet in the stomach.

Tshwane metro police are unable to immediately confirm the death of the bus driver.

10) July 3 - After three days of being stranded, commuters say they are tired of the inconvenience and violence caused by the exit of Putco buses. They demand that the buses are brought back into Mamelodi. They angrily confront Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa at a bus depot, accusing the government of being reactive rather than proactive.

Read more on:    autopax  |  putco  |  pretoria  |  transport

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