Bus users ‘roughed up’ by KZN road officer

2008-12-26 00:00

As the battle between bus companies and KwaZulu-Natal road authorities gets tenser, bus users are told to grin and bear — and to deal with it when being manhandled by the authorities.

Famida Ismail, a mother of five traveling home for Christmas on Wednesday night, is an example of this. Ismail was left with a large bruise on her left arm after being violently grabbed and pushed by a member of the Road Traffic Inspectorate while the buses she was on was being tested at Mkondeni.

“[The officer] grabbed me on my arm very hard and now it’s really sore,” she said just after the incident, while comforting her scared four-year old son.

Only moments before, a dispute between several passengers and the authorities broke out because they were “rudely” told to leave the shelter of the testing station by the officer who bruised Ismail’s arm. Her husband, Ziyaahd Ismail, was one of the annoyed passengers.

“I have my wife and kids on this bus … two of the little ones are still sleeping on the bus alone! We paid to use the bus … they mustn’t treat us like dogs. Who do you think pays their salaries, huh?”

But, before her husband could finish, another passenger, Luthfiya Kurtha added: “Do you think our kids are safe with these animals?! Just look at her arm. I am so scared for those children.”

The officer threatened to arrest Ismail’s husband for obstruction of justice and refused to tell passengers his badge number when they threatened to report him.

Linah Mthembu, a 46-year-old grandmother was told to “shut up” by the officer when she asked him to speak to them a bit more respectfully.

“I told him that we paid to be here, he must speak to us nicely … He said to me ‘you must just shut up’‚” she said.

Transport Department spokeswoman, Nonkululeko Mbatha, promised to follow up the incident, and affirmed that it was not necessary for the passengers to leave the testing station during ordinary testing.

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