Golden Arrow has appealed to the public to come forward with information regarding arson attacks on its buses.
The transport company, which operates more than 55 000 trips per week, had 14 buses set alight since last year including an incident which took place in Malibu Village last week.
Andrea Davids, who was in the bus at the time of the incident, posted the following on Facebook: “Never have I ever experienced so much fear in my life”.
“I got so excited to see the bus arrive at my bus stop because yesterday, (the previous day) I was super late for work. I literally just got in the bus and as we took the turn heading towards Mfuleni five guys came running towards the bus throwing stones and shouting for us to get out because they are going to burn the bus.
“Now, at this point, everyone started panicking and running out, some through the windows. While I was still in the bus, it started burning by the driver side. I cannot describe the feeling I had at that moment. I am just thankful that everyone is safe and unharmed, including the driver,” she said.
Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said a new bus costs about R2.5 million.
“We are on the ground 24/7, but the scale of these actions and the speed with which groups of people move or appear in new locations makes it very difficult. The bus that was set alight last week was an ambush, so there was no way we could have known it was going to happen.
“Public safety is not something that should be assigned to a private transport company. We were diverting our buses at the time because we do make route changes when protest action takes place, but we cannot simply stop operating every time there is a protest. We have a contractual obligation, and our passengers depend on us. They cannot afford to lose a day’s work or school because of ongoing protest action.
“Golden Arrow recognizes the right to peaceful protest, but the authorities must then put measures in place to ensure that people can still move freely and safely. Given the current economic climate people cannot afford to lose workdays or face reprimands because of threats levelled towards them or Golden Arrow,” she said.
She said no one was injured in the latest attack, but their driver was left traumatized.
“The safety of our passengers and staff is of paramount importance to us. Public transport is an essential public service. If we were to stop operating in certain areas our passengers would not be able to get to work and school.
“We have to deploy extensive resources and work closely with SAPS, law enforcement, and traffic services, but that can only help in terms of information sharing. Ultimately, we are out there alone trying our best to offer a service under sometimes impossible circumstances. Our passengers suffer the most though because they either have to walk long distances or if it is too dangerous, they cannot even leave the area,” she added.
She said they are still offering a reward of up to R200 000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonists. Information can be shared via 0800 111 167.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of malicious damage to property was opened and it is still being investigated.
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