By: Palesa Tshandu and Anelisa Tuswa
Wits students were involved in a stampede while trying to board a single bus, apparently serving eighteen residences, on Sunday. The incident happened at Wits Education campus where students from various residences had converged to catch a bus to Rosebank as part of a new bus system implemented by Wits Services.
Wits Junction House Committee vice-chairpeson Nkululeko Tselane said the issue with the new system is that “all the res’es have to go to Education campus for a bus”. Tselane said the “chaos” started with Rosebank buses, where students from eighteen different residences had to use a single bus stop at Education campus.
“All these res’es come to one spot – and everybody has to get on the bus because there’s no standing in the buses … it’s a stampede hazard which is what we as the house committees we are worried about,” said Tselane.
Tselane who was at Wits Services earlier today to discuss the issue, said the change in the bus schedule was not communicated properly to his House Committee. “The House Committee has been opposed to it from the beginning … we said that we don’t agree with it, it’s not practical.”
Thivhulawi Ramukhuba, one of the drivers who was at the scene of the incident said the issue is with students who use the Rosebank route to get to main campus instead of waiting for a direct bus to the campus. “Siyahamba nomtwalo, bese sibuya ngomtwalo (we go with baggage and we come back with baggage),” he said referring to students who don’t climb off the bus at Education campus and instead remain until the bus reaches main campus.
Ramukhuba said this has been an on-going issue where students do not get off at their intended destination. “The situation is similar with those who get off at EOH (Ernest Oppenheimer) res – we tell them to get next bus but instead the students stay on the bus and we go with them to Rosebank and back.” He confirmed that he hasn’t raised the issue with students as he wants to avoid conflict. “I’d rather keep my mouth shut,” he said.
Tselane said the issue has to be addressed today because part of the changes that have been implemented was that the buses are leaving every 30 minutes instead of every 15. “That’s our issue now … people are late for lectures because they are not making it on time. It’s compromising academics.”
Wits Vuvuzela contacted Wits Services’ Operations Manager:Transport Timothy Mudau who said that he cannot respond because “we are still not sure of what happened.”