Bus accident survivors tell of traumatic ordeal

2019-11-19 16:15


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Survivors of the accident in which a 58-year-old City to City bus driver was shot have told of how the traumatic ordeal unfolded.

The bus was travelling towards Gauteng, from Umtata, along the R56 near the Eston turn-off, when it came under fire from unknown attackers in a silver VW Golf at around 7.10 pm.

The bus was transporting 32 passengers, some of them children, the youngest just eight months old.

It was suggested by some sources that the attack might be connected to an ongoing feud with taxi drivers along the route, who have, in the past, tried to stop the bus company from taking passengers, but this could not be confirmed.

Speaking to The Witness from his hospital bed on Monday, one of the passengers, Sandiso Mngxuma, said the evening had started like any other trip, until they reached the Eston turn-off.

“We were attacked by a VW Polo. The vehicle came from behind the bus as if it was overtaking. It didn’t really overtake and then I heard three loud bangs and the driver lost control of the bus,” said Mngxuma.

The bus then rolled 16 metres down a valley, landing at the bottom.

“At first I thought it was a tyre burst ... but I was confused as to how a tyre could burst three times. It was really a traumatic experience but surprisingly everyone was calm and there were no screams in the bus ... We had children in the bus but luckily none of the passengers suffered serious injuries.”

Mngxuma said that while he did not sustain any serious injuries, he hit his back hard. “I did X-rays and got injections to numb the pain. Other people had cuts, but the driver was bleeding badly,” he told The Witness.

Mngxuma, who is originally from Umtata, had been on his way to Johannesburg for a job interview scheduled for Tuesday. “I need to find a way to let the prospective employer know that I won’t be able to make it. Hopefully, I can still arrange another time.

“I’m just grateful to be alive. Anything could have happened,” he added.

Another traumatised passenger, Azo Malindi, said she had been on her way back to Meyerton in Johannesburg after visiting relatives in Qumbu at the weekend. “I was sitting three seats away from the driver. When I heard the gunshots, I put my head down because I didn’t know who was under attack ... I thought we were all going to die,” she said.

Malindi often uses the bus because she has always felt it was safe.

“It was a very scary experience. The perpetrators are heartless. How do you put so many lives at risk? We could have died when the bus rolled over,” she said.

A paramedic who was one of the first responders to the incident, who asked to remain unnamed, said the driver had been shot four times in the right shoulder and back. “He was serious but stable. It was a miracle that none of the passengers sustained serious injuries,” the paramedic said, adding: “It was a miracle that no one was hit.”

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of attempted murder was opened at the Richmond police station.

Meanwhile, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) spokesperson Nana Zenani, said their protection services were escorting the Autopax bus during the shooting incident.

Autopax is state-owned and operates City to City as well as Translux buses.

Zenani added that Prasa is investigating the incident and is continuing to escort the Autopax services.

In September, City to City and Translux bus drivers embarked on a strike after two drivers were shot in KwaZulu-Natal within a few minutes of each other. One survived, but the other died.

South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) spokesperson Zanele Sabela said yesterday that the union was calling on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and law enforcement officials to act decisively against taxi operators implicated in attacks on Autopax buses.

Read more on:    city to city bus  |  pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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