UPDATED: 21 Zim robbed, bus torched in SA

TWENTY-ONE Zimbabweans travelling to Johannesburg, South Africa, escaped death by a whisker after they were attacked and robbed of their valuables by violent protesters 40km outside Pretoria along the N1 Highway yesterday morning.

Some criminal elements that could have hijacked the protests, also burnt to a shell an Eagle Liner bus the Zimbabweans were travelling in after stripping the hapless passengers of their valuables.

One of the passengers sustained injuries when he was hit with a stone as the bus made a U-turn in front of the charging protesters.

The Zimbabweans were attacked around 3:30am.
21 Zim robbed, bus torched in SA
The bus was travelling from Bulawayo to Johannesburg in Gauteng Province.

The protesters, unhappy about the ruling ANC’s nomination of former minister Thoko Didiza as mayoral candidate, set fire to buildings and overturned vehicles belonging to both South Africans and foreigners in and around Tshwane since Monday.

Didiza, born in KwaZulu-Natal, was nominated to replace the incumbent and protesters’ favourite candidate Kgosietso Sipulta Ramakgopa.
Eagle Liner proprietor Mr Dhalib Ishemeal, said the victims had taken refuge at Hammanskraal police station since the situation was still volatile.
“All the 21 passengers are now safe and we are waiting for the police to calm the situation. We also heard that there was another bus from another company, which was also burnt down as well. This is very unfortunate,” said Mr Ishemeal.

Sources in Pretoria said haulage trucks and other vehicles, which use the same route were burnt near Zebediela.

It is understood that residents of Tshwane took to the streets protesting a decision by the ruling ANC to name Thoko Didiza as the party’s mayoral candidate in the forthcoming local government elections.
South Africa’s national police spokesperson, Brigadier Mashadi Selepe, was not available for comment yesterday night.
Zimbabwe’s Consul General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, said police in that country had contained the situation along the N1 highway and that traffic movement had returned to normalcy.

“We have contacted the security cluster commanders in Tshwane East and Hammanskraal area and they have assured us that the road was now clear for traffic.

“They have contained the situation in the area though we want to urge the travelling public to always travel during the day and avoid using the R101 highway, which has no tollgates and less security personnel,” he said.

Mr Mukonoweshuro said there was no need for people to panic as the situation was now under control adding that they should be very alert to the happenings around them.

He also dispelled rumours, which were doing the rounds on social media that all tollgates along the N1 had been closed due to violence.

“The tollgate near Hammanskraaal area was only closed to clear the barricades on the main highway.

“We haven’t heard any reports of people who were harmed except a minor incident where one person sustained a minor wound during the skirmishes. The person is out of danger,” he said.

He added that no disturbances were reported at the Bosman Bus Terminus where most Zimbabwean cross border buses picked up passengers.

He said the outgoing mayor, Ramakgopa had started moving around the city urging the protestors to calm down.

The consul general said they were confident that the host government would completely contain the situation.

He said in isolated cases the mob had also burnt local (South African) public transport in the high density suburbs.

The N1 highway is one of the busiest roads in South Africa as it links that country to the rest of Africa and it is the route, which handles a lot of commercial cargo movement.

Mr Ramaphosa said: “We are very, very concerned that this whole problem is beginning to acquire tribalistic type of tones, where it is suggested that someone who was born in another province, but lives in a city, in a metro like Pretoria, should not be the mayoral candidate of Tshwane.

“Now this goes against the values that we always sought to embrace as a people and as a nation.

“We say let us uphold our values that are deeply embedded in our Constitution. Let us practice them because it is important that we as South Africans act as one and be truly non-racial and be truly democratic in everything that we do,” he said.

South African Government has ruled out deploying soldiers in Tswane. Herald

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