Attacks on petrol stations – when will they end?

When five petrol attendants were shot dead in Grassy Park , Cape Town , a few year years ago, the dangers at work for petrol attendants were highlighted.

The latest victim was a security guard called to stop a robbery at a petrol station on the R21 between Johannesburg and Pretoria . Shot at three times, he is recovering in a nearby hospital.

This is not the first time that shots have rung out at the busy petrol station. A popular stopping place for big trucks, an earlier incident saw the driver of a truck shot while he was lying checking the undercarriage of his vehicle.

Shop steward Ephraim Nkoana worries that next time petrol attendants could be the victims.

Although he appreciates the palisade fence that their employer has built around the garage and the extra lighting that shines on the previously dark truck parking area, the active Tembisa local shop steward is worried that the employer has not discussed these measures with the workers.

“˜There is a video camera as well, but it cannot prevent shootings,” says the shop steward. “And we are worried about our Zozo which provides us with no protection.”

The small room which is temporary home for the forecourt attendants while they work their 8-hour shifts has thin fibre glass walls with perspex windows and no electricity. “We feel too exposed,” says Nkoana.

Although the shop steward is troubled by the employer’s lack of meaningful negotiations with the workers around the safety issues, he is equally disturbed by the fact that Numsa’s regional safety committees set up to monitor safety at petrol stations are not meeting.

Sam Tsiane, national motor sector co-ordinator says that after the Cape Town shootings, a security course was set up by Merseta for all petrol attendants. Tsiane says that once this training is finished, the union will assess how effective it has been and then decide on the next course of action.

Meanwhile the active Nkoana has already written to the municipality to ask them to remove the trees and bushes near their workplace. Just recently one of their women workers was raped just outside the perimeter of the palisade fence on her way to start the 6am shift.