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Scholar transport bus shot at in Benoni, driver injured

9-year-old shot during robbery in La Mercy.
9-year-old shot during robbery in La Mercy.
Image: STOCK IMAGE

A scholar transport driver was caught in an alleged turf war between Benoni Taxi Association and the Gauteng education department.

The bus driver was rushed to hospital, where he is receiving medical attention.

The driver seems to have escaped serious injury despite his bus being hit by several bullets near a school in Benoni, East Rand, yesterday morning. The bus was shot at by an unknown man after the driver had dropped off Etwatwa Secondary School pupils.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department believed the incident was as a result of simmering tensions between itself and the Benoni Taxi Association.

"Taxi owners were not pleased with our provision of scholar transport in that area. We have called upon the police to assist in securing our learners' buses, and [for] patrolling to be done at drop-off points.

"We will also explore the facilitation of a community meeting this evening to pave a way forward," Mabona.

A security guard at the school, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they heard about six gunshots being fired.

The man said the incident happened between 7am and 8am, just before classes began.

"We were scared to go out but we saw the driver running to our direction. His face was covered with blood because of the shattered glass," the man said.

The terrified driver asked to be rushed to hospital, the guard added.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was saddened by the tragic incident and appealed for peace in the implementation of this transportation initiative.

"We introduced the scholar transport in February 2020 as one of the department's initiatives to aid learners coming from disadvantaged backgrounds in the area, and as such necessary meetings were held with stakeholders to explain the implementation process accordingly," Lesufi said.

He appealed to all stakeholders to allow the scholar transport to run smoothly.

"It is important to emphasise that acts of violence will not yield any positive results, hence, it will only lead to unnecessary injuries, trauma and fatalities, which is unfortunate." Lesufi said.

Derrick Mntambo, chairperson of Benoni Taxi Association, said there were tensions previously between them and the department.

"I don't understand why the shooting took place because we resolved the issues about two weeks back.

"However, we [are] having a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss the shooting," he said.

Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele confirmed the incident and said no one was seriously injured.

"A case of attempted murder has been opened," he added.

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