Commuters injured as police fire rubber bullets

Riot Hlatshwayo andInnocentia Ndlovu

Riot Hlatshwayo andInnocentia Ndlovu

Scores of people were injured during violent protests by bus commuters in Nelspruit yesterday afternoon.

Commuters torched at least two buses and damaged several others with stones and bottles.

The commuters became angry after being told that they would not be transported home after work because the bus drivers were on strike.

It is not clear what the bus drivers were striking about, but it is believed it is related to wages and working conditions.

MATS transport, the bus company believed to be the biggest in Mpumalanga, transports workers and other commuters from the sprawling townships of KwaNyamazane, KaBokweni and several rural settlements to and from work daily.

"I have three little kids waiting for me to return from work. I use bus tickets and do not have extra money to pay for a taxi to go home," said Zanele Simelane, one of the commuters.

She accused the bus company of failing to warn them in time that there would be a strike.

Lowveld police spokesman Superintendent Mtsholi Bhembe said a policeman was injured after being stoned.

He said four commuters were injured when police fired rubber bullets.

It is not clear how commuters will go to work or how they will get home in the evening.

The police managed to the situation to relative clam.

By early evening, some of the injured were still waiting to be taken to hospital.