Gunfire heard at train driver’s memorial



July 15, 2016
Gunfire heard at train driver’s memorial

GRIEVING: Pieter Bothas daughter, Nadia, wife Tania and son Brandon. CREDIT: Bertram Malgas

Shots ring out as mourners gather to pay respects to train driver killed on platform

Moments after a train carrying friends and family of murdered train driver Pieter “Biltong” Botha left Netreg Station yesterday, shots rang out just metres from where the memorial service was held.

Three teenage boys, all aged 17, were injured in a drive-by shooting in nearby Netreg Street.

Bishop Lavis SAPS spokeswoman Captain Marie Louw says two victims were hit in the leg and arm, and the third victim sustained wounds to his side of his body.

The teens from Bonteheuwel and Netreg were taken to hospital.

According to witnesses, the three were shot by occupants in a Blue Citi Golf.

Police are investigating whether the shooting was gang-related. No arrests have been made yet.

Just an hour earlier, about 500 heartbroken friends, family and colleagues of Pieter gathered for a memorial service at the platform where he was shot dead.

Pieter’s wife Tania, son Brandon and daughter Nadia arrived in a Metrorail Business express train from their home in Malmesbury, decorated with a box of wreaths and a photo of Pieter.

HONOURED: A train decorated with a box of wreaths and a photo of Pieter at Netreg Station.

The large group sang a hymn while the family accepted condolences.

Fellow train driver Abrie Hyman said: “To us Piet Botha was not only a colleague, he was a brother to all of us. The gangs might have taken our brother but his spirit will always be with us.”

Abrie says Pieter worked at Metrorail for more than 20 years, and wanted to become a driver trainer.

That is the reason why he was at Netreg Station on Monday – he was getting to know the different routes and lines.

“Usually he would be working on the Wellington line, but as a trainer, you need to know all the different train lines,” Abrie explained.

Wiping away her tears, grieving widow Tania, said: “It’s wonderful to see how loved he was and that means a lot.”

The service was also attended by Transport MEC Donald Grant, Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board member William Steenkamp.

Talking about safety regulations, an emotional Steenkamp shouted: “Ek is gatvol nou! We cannot be exposing our workers and commuters to another death before we understand the seriousness of what we have to do as Prasa.”

Prasa has promised “to flood” trains with security guards after drivers went on strike after the tragedy, demanding safe work conditions.

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