Striking workers 'definitely not' behind Intercape bus attack - Numsa

Tammy Petersen, News24

Cape Town - Striking Numsa workers are "definitely not" behind the attack on an Intercape bus which led to the deaths of two people, the union’s provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele said on Wednesday.

The union had been "amicably engaging" with the company for the past three weeks and Lufele believed it was in the final stages of negotiations.

Bus drivers had been on strike since last month after hostesses were retrenched, leading to bus drivers having to cover this service as well, he explained.

"Our members were definitely not involved in this barbaric act," Lufele said.

"We have been moving forward in terms of our discussions with the company. Our members would have no reason to do this."

On Wednesday, the Cape Argus quoted bus driver Dennis Moyo as saying that striking workers had been making life difficult for those who remained on duty.

He told the newspaper that he saw three men flee after two petrol bombs were thrown through his windscreen.

The fire spread quickly and he was unable to drive away.

He believed the attackers were strikers.

'It was the worst sound I ever heard'

Two men were killed and 34 other people were injured when the bus was petrol bombed in Onverwacht Street, Lwandle on Tuesday evening.

The motive for the attack was not clear, Intercape said on Wednesday.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said four people sustained serious injuries and the rest were treated for smoke inhalation and burn wounds.

He said residents of the nearby informal settlement initially thought that shacks were on fire and arrived to see a bus was burning.

Witness Mbongi Booysen heard loud prayers and "horrible screaming" as he tried to help people trapped in the burning bus mere metres form his home.

"It was the worst sound I ever heard," he recalled on Wednesday.

"When I went to sleep last night, I could still hear it. It was terrible."

'It was a horrible thing to see'

Booysen was among those who tried to help the injured after the petrol bombing.

"All... residents came out of their homes and tried to lend a hand. The situation was terrible. I just prayed for God to give us the strength to help these people."

Grace Thambo said the shack dwellers had rushed to the nearby communal taps to get water in an attempt to douse the flames.

"Wow, it was a horrible thing to see. My biggest nightmare is to burn to death. Thank God we were able to help save some of the people who were hurt. They are lucky and blessed to be alive."

On Wednesday afternoon, Extended Public Works Programme workers were cleaning the remaining debris from the road and pavement.

"This is the work of the devil," one commented.