Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Three Zimbabwean cross border buses and two trucks were yesterday burnt in the Newton area of Johannesburg, South Africa. Buses belonging to Munhenzwa, Elite and Hi-Tec coaches were reduced to shells by fire believed to have emanated from a cigarette butt.
The incident occurred at around 4pm in Newton, along Main Street, where most Zimbabwean cross border buses park before leaving South Africa for Zimbabwe.
The trucks were carrying luggage destined for various towns in Zimbabwe, including Gweru and Harare.
Zimbabwe’s Consular-General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the cause of the fire was yet to be established.
“Indications are that the fire started from an Elite coaches bus which then spread to Munhenzwa and Hi-Tech and the two trucks. However, no human life was claimed though property worth thousands of rands was reduced to ashes.
“We are yet to establish the total value of the property which was destroyed. Our officers are still on the ground,” he said.
Mr Mukonoweshuro said fire-fighters tried to pull the Munhenzwa bus from the scene, but it was too late.
One of the witnesses identified only as Mai Kuda, said the cause of the fire was still a mystery.
“It is a shock how a cigarette butt can be said to have caused so much damage to three buses and trucks. I heard that there was fire here and rushed to check if there were any people I knew, fortunately nobody was hurt except groceries and various properties which were damaged,” she said.
Of late there has been an upsurge in robberies by criminals purporting to be South African police officers targeting Zimbabwean cross border buses outside Polokwane and Pretoria cities.
The suspects are yet to be accounted for.
Efforts to get comments from authorities at Munenzwa, Hi-Tech and Elite coaches were fruitless last night.
One of the ladies who works at the Newton area, Ms Tendai Zhou, said other bus crews had to drive off from the area as the fire raged on.
“The situation was terrible and we suspect that the fire was started deliberately by jealous people considering that most of the buses have been robbed along the N1 Highway.
“In most cases we will be having more than 50 buses here especially those going to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia,” she said.