Putco buses back on road

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

Putco bus operations in the former KwaNdebele homeland in Mpumalanga returned to normal yesterday after disgruntled commuters burnt and damaged more than 30 buses on the Moloto road.

The irate commuters, reportedly joined by community members from villages along the notorious bus and taxi route between Moloto village and Dennilton in Moutse, went on the rampage on Monday morning. They hijacked and stoned buses and set them on fire in protest against Putco's ticketing system.

The bus company's spokesman Matlakala Motloung told Sowetan yesterday that they were busy with mopping up operations.

She said out of a total of 40 buses, 22 and a bakkie belonging to the company were torched.

"The damage is estimated at R36 million," she said.

About improving the ticketing system, Motloung said they were busy looking at several options, including using the services of chain stores for the sale of weekly and monthly tickets.

Motloung confirmed claims that the company had suspended 17 ticket sellers in connection with a large sum of money that went missing.

"We have replaced them with temporary staff," she said. "We also received claims of intimidation against the new staff before this incident."

Fifteen protesters were arrested.

Inspector Johannes Jafta said a man found driving a bus without permission from Putco was charged with theft of a vehicle and was due to appear in the Cullinan magistrate's court yesterday.