John* spotted a man standing between two shacks, pulling a balaclava over his head, near to the Golden Arrow bus he usually catches from Nyanga to the Cape Town’s CBD at around 05:15 on Friday.
Suddenly the man rushed to the bus and shouted: “You must move!” and threw a rock at it.
“He told people to get out of the bus,” said John, who was heading to work in the CBD.
As a cleaner who already paid around R600 for his monthly bus ticket, there was no extra financial capacity to take alternate transport. So, he stayed on the bus as the driver tried to get away from the danger. Windows on one side of the bus were broken and glass was lying around.
John appeared resigned to the attack on the bus as he took a few minutes from his work schedule to tell News24 about his ordeal.
Because he is sub-contracted to the company he works at, if he had not arrived for work, he would not have been paid.
Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) said three drivers were injured and the company had to move operations from the terminus to Borcherds Quarry Road as a safety precaution after five buses were stoned on Friday morning amid volatility in Nyanga.
“It is imperative that law enforcement and [the SA Police Service] provide our staff and passengers with the necessary protection in instances such as these so that we can provide our absolutely essential service safely and unhindered,” the company said in response to questions about the stonings.
This was after Golden Arrow drivers worked late on Thursday to help stranded commuters. The commuters were left without transport home after Eskom cut off Metrorail’s electricity ahead of peak hour because the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) had not paid its electricity bill.
“As soon as we were made aware of the issues with the trains, we mobilised all our resources to ensure that we were able to add additional buses into the system as quickly as possible once they had completed their scheduled trips,” said GABS spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer.
GABS was able to clear passengers from major termini and main roads by about 19:00.
The company is contracted to the Western Cape Department of Transport to provide an essential service to the public.
“Whilst we do everything possible from our side to minimise the impact of situations such as these on our passengers and staff, we rely on SAPS and law enforcement to fulfil their mandate in terms of public safety.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in close contact with the authorities.”
*John is a pseudonym for a commuter who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity.