“The government’s apparent laxity on crime and the direct impact it has on the public transport industry is confirmed by the ongoing attacks on long-distance bus operators.”
This is what Chris Hunsinger, the DA’s spokesperson on transport, says about the wave of attacks on bus operators such as Intercape in the past few years.
On Thursday, the DA gave its support to Intercape’s decision to appoint Police Minister Bheki Cele. to drag to court because of the police’s “failure” to stop the attacks on his buses. He plans to table the issue “for urgent discussion” at the next parliamentary portfolio committee meeting.
“Since thousands of South Africans have to travel long distances, we demand that Cele and the incoming minister of transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, immediately implement a security plan,” says Hunsinger.
Due to the attacks in the Eastern Cape, Intercape has already lost millions of rands and many of its passengers have been left stranded.
“It is alarming that there have already been 14 attacks on buses in the past few weeks.”
Johann Ferreira, CEO of Intercape, says that in these attacks buses were pelted with stones, passengers and drivers were intimidated and shots were even fired at buses. At least three people have been wounded by shots fired at Intercape’s buses since March and two more have been severely assaulted.
No one has yet been arrested in connection with the attacks and there are no pending prosecutions, despite the fact that more than 160 cases have been filed in the past three years.
Intercape has on several occasions obtained court orders to compel the police and the national and provincial transport authorities to deal with the violent attacks on its bus drivers and passengers.
“It is outrageous that any company should take such drastic steps to ensure the protection and intervention of the Minister of Police,” says Hunsinger.
According to the DA, Cele and the former Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, apparently gave up and left the long-distance bus operator and his passengers to their mercy.
“Organized crime is allowed to flourish in the absence of police action and this can pose serious risks to investor confidence.”
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