Numsa condemns deadly attack on petrol attendants

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Petrol attendant puts petrol in a car. South African commuters have been reeling at the sharp increase in the price of petrol recently.

CAPE TOWN - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has condemned the attack on a petrol station in Mpumalanga which left one petrol attendant dead and another seriously wounded.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi denounced the murder of petrol station attendant Eric Mhlaba, who was shot and killed over the weekend, and the wounding of Thulani Matjelele in the same attack in Mbombela.

Matjelele is in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

According to Hlubi, Mhlaba and Matjelele were on duty at the Shell petrol station on Andrew Street in Mbombela on Sunday when two men shot them at point blank range.

“Two men travelling in a Gold Ford Fiesta accused the attendants of not filling up their vehicle, after they had given them R100,”Hlubi said.

“Following a fierce argument, one of the suspects returned to his vehicle, pulled out a firearm and shot them at point blank range, killing comrade Mhlaba instantly, and seriously wounding comrade Matjelele.

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“The victim’s uncle, James Mhlaba who also works at the filling station, said the family was shocked and traumatised by the news”

“He was only 26 years old and had been working here for the past three years.”

According to Hlubi, later that same day, one of the suspects handed himself over at the Kabokweni police station. Police say he led them to the alleged shooter’s house where the SAPS found the second suspect with an unlicensed firearm in his possession.

“Numsa denounces this brutal, cowardly attack on our members who were viciously attacked for simply doing their job. These criminals have robbed the Mhlaba family of their beloved son and breadwinner who made a valuable contribution to society. This senseless act has inflicted permanent suffering on the Mhlaba family.”

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Hlubi said in 2014 a group of bikers were caught on camera assaulting a man who worked as a petrol attendant at a garage in Emalahleni, Witbank.

“Numsa calls on employers to do much more to ensure the safety and security of Workers, especially at filling stations. Petrol attendants are at risk because they often work in isolated places in the middle of the night, making it easier for them to be victims of crime. We also commend the actions of the SAPS for swiftly arresting the alleged perpetrators.

“To the public we say: Respect our Petrol Attendants. Our members also deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They are men and women who provide a necessary service to all of us, often at the expense of spending time with their families. They are vulnerable to being abused and yet they risk their lives to serve the public, often for low pay.”