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13 HURT AS BUS IS PETROL BOMBED

13 Feb Transport

A total of 13 people were injured when a Golden Arrow bus was petrol bombed on Vanguard Drive, outside the Samora Machel informal settlement, ahead of the taxi strike entering its third day today.

And irate commuters at Nyanga have now called for a boycott of taxis from Monday, with many vowing to choose buses and trains to get to work in the future.

In last night’s bus fire, four women and two men sustained third-degree burns, police said.

The injured were admitted to GF Jooste Hospital in Manenberg and treated for burns and shock, said spokesman Captain Ntornboxolo Sitshitshi.

Three men, described as “old” by witnesses, were apparently spotted sitting under trees close to a gap the fence along Vanguard Drive.

As the bus, travelling to Lost City in Mitchells Plain, passed in rush- hour traffic just after 5pm, the men allegedly ran up to the bus and threw a petrol bomb into the back section. The men were seen running back through the gap in the fence, and disappearing between the shacks.

When the bus driver heard screams, he checked the rear-view mirror and saw passengers on fire. No arrests have been made.

This was the second bus to be attacked in one day. Earlier yesterday, a bus in Montague Gardens was destroyed by a petrol bomb. No-one was injured.

This morning police and law enforcement officials remained on high alert, with more than 100 police officers stationed between the Mew Way and Borchards Quarry off- ramps on the N2 near Khayelitsha and Nyanga, to ensure minimal traffic disruption during the morning peak hour.

In Nyanga. residents who have struggled to get to and from work for the past two days said they would never again use taxis.

Boarding buses at a makeshift bus stop near the Borchards Quarry offramp, commuters told the Cape Argus they would continue to take buses and trains when the taxis got back on the road on Monday.

Commuter Miriam Msebe said she was tired of taxi strikes during which only commuters suffered.

Commuters said that taxi operators were inconsiderate and cared only about their own needs. Msebe called on all commuters to boycott taxis from Monday.

Just before 9am today, 13 buses were still lined upon the Mew Way offramp and about 500 people were lined up to board. Heavily armed police were standing guard.

By 10 am yesterday morning, more than 50 Golden Arrow buses had been damaged and 50 passengers injured. At least 150 bus windows were broken, said Vuyisile Mdoda, Golden Arrow spokesperson.

But the figures were expected to be higher after further stonings during the day yesterday, especially on the R300 near Mitchells Plain.

Mdoda said Golden Arrow was working with authorities to stabilise the situation so there would be as little disruption to the bus service as possible.

The National Taxi Alliance called the strike to protest against the proposed Bus Rapid Transport system. The strike, which is supposed to end today was felt far and wide, as thousands of commuters were either stranded without transport or forced to use alternative means to get to work.

Meanwhile, Cape Town mayor Helen Zille called for “tough action” to be taken against perpetrators of violence during the strike.

“We call on the police to take a firm stance in providing riot control and breaking up barricades. Their primary responsibility is maintaining public order,” said Zille.

Traffic services were instructed to tow away and impound any taxi used to block traffic. High absenteeism rates were reported at several schools yesterday. “It is possible that some parents decided to keep their children at home and that some bus operators decided not to take learners to school, fearing possible attacks,” said Millicent Merton, spokesperson for Education MEC Yousuf Gabru.

Source: Cape Argus – Clayton Barnes & Esther Lewis