2 Zimbabwean Buses Hijacked in South Africa

TWO Zimbabwean buses have been attacked by armed highway robbers in South Africa. The buses, Eagle Liner and Citiliner that were headed for Johannesburg, were attacked within a space of two days.

Citiliner was attacked on Tuesday and Eagleliner early yesterday morning.

The attacks come barely a month after a Johannesburg-bound Intercape bus was hijacked near Hammanskraal by armed robbers in the early hours of the morning.

Officials from the two bus companies confirmed the attacks yesterday.

They said a wave of highway robberies had been experienced on the route in the past five weeks.

Eagle Liner passengers lost valuables such as cash, cellphones and other gadgets to robbers who struck during the early hours of yesterday.

“The bus was stopped by three armed men at around 2AM and they demanded that we hand over all the money we had and cellphones and out of fear we just complied and they disappeared,” said the passenger who declined to be named.

Passengers on the Citiliner were lucky to escape the robbery as a police van arrived just in time

“As the bus neared a bridge in Polokwane the robbers flagged down the bus and ordered the driver to pull off the road but we were saved by a police van that suddenly appeared and the robbers fled the scene without robbing anyone,” said one of the passengers who identified himself as Ndlovu.

Passengers from both buses told The Chronicle yesterday that armed robbers who waylay buses were now making South Africa a no-go area.

“We’re now afraid of travelling, especially as cross border traders because we will be carrying lots of cash to buy goods for resale at home. With this continued spate of robberies we cannot carry large sums of money and this affects our businesses,” said Ndlovu.

He accused bus drivers of working in cahoots with the robbers, pointing out that they now knew the attack hotspots but were not taking measures to improve passengers’ security.

“The bus drivers could be part of the syndicate hence are reluctant to take measures to guarantee our safety ” he said.

An official from Eagle Liner in Johannesburg who dentified himself as Marimo said yesterday’s robbery was their first.

“The robberies have been going on for the past four to five weeks but we had not been attacked until today. We’ve since instructed our drivers not to stop along the away but sometimes they’re blocked by the robbers and there is nothing they can do,” said Marimo.

He said there were 13 passengers on the bus that was attacked in Modimole, an area between Johannesburg and Polokwane.

Marimo said cross border traders and the South African police were engaged in talks to deal with the rise in robbery cases. “I can’t give more information on the issue but call tomorrow when our principals are back from Harare,” he said.

Citiliner human resources manager Grant Fleetwood said the police’s timely intervention saved his bus’ passengers.

“I can confirm that there was an attempted robbery on one of our buses between Johannesburg and Polokwane but fortunately police intervened just in time,” said Fleetwood.

South African provincial police spokesperson for Limpopo, Colonel Ronel Otto was not available for comment as her phone was on voice mail.

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