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By Ilse de Lange


Two drivers deny burning bus, killing co-striker

The court saw video footage showing Mohlabane and Choma entering and exiting the bus minutes before the bus catching fire.

Two former Tshwane bus drivers who were seen entering and exiting an A Re Yeng bus seconds before it was set alight told the High Court in Pretoria yesterday that it was a mere coincidence they were on the bus that day.

Alphios Mohlabane, 36, and Solomon Choma, 41, denied they had anything to do with the incident in October 2016 when the bus was burnt, killing one of the alleged arsonists and seriously injuring a female passenger.

Sam Matebane, the CEO of TRT Bus Service which was contracted by the city, testified that Mohlabane and Choma were part of a group of 99 bus drivers who were fired in August 2016 after taking part in an illegal strike. He said security was beefed up after some of the former bus drivers tried to attack him and threatened that if they were not going to drive the buses, no one would.

Mohlabane and Choma have pleaded not guilt to charges of the murder of former bus driver Daisy Makeke and attempted murder of passenger Sebola Kgaugelo, as well as to charges of destroying essential infrastructure, public violence and the possession of petrol bombs.

Makeke, who was seen on CCTV footage pouring petrol onto the floor of the bus seconds before flames erupted, was set alight during the incident. She died in hospital several days later.

Kgaugelo, who sustained serious burns to her upper body, earlier testified that she was sitting in the bus but became trapped when it was set alight. Bystanders helped her to put out the flames by rolling her and pouring sand on her. She was taken to hospital.

Judge Bert Bam yesterday acquitted two other former bus drivers, Vusi Mashiane and White Natali, on all of the charges because of a lack of evidence. Video footage showed both in the vicinity of the bus, but could not link them to the bus being set alight.

The court saw video footage showing Mohlabane and Choma entering and exiting the bus with Makeke, minutes before she poured liquid onto the floor of the bus and the bus catching fire.

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