Intercape bus terror: Under siege operators’ terrifying tales of terror laid bare

0
63

Inter-provincial bus operators have laid bare the terrifying and deadly environment under which they have been forced to operate due to concerted attacks, murder, assault, extortion and intimidation.

Other than being told where and when to load passengers or not, operators are also told what to charge passengers or face deadly consequences.

On Friday, bus operators Autopax, Golden Arrows and Intercape took turns detailing to the Western Cape provincial Standing Committee on Transport and Public Works how their buses have been stoned, shot at and drivers killed or paralysed.

Committee members heard how the attacks have left passengers and staff frightened, with even retail outlets intimidated not to sell the operator’s bus coupons.

Moreover, some areas in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape have been declared as no-go zones.

ALSO READ: Intercape rogue taxi associations targeting buses

Elements in the taxi industry in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape have been blamed for the attacks and extortion, including demanding millions of rands for the safe passage of buses to certain areas.

National problem

The committee was also informed how this terror was taking place across the country; even scholar transport and the public in private vehicles were being terrorised by taxi patrollers who demand fines.

In his presentation, Intercape attorney Jac Marais said there were attacks nearly every second day, with 29 stoning and 19 shooting incidents since the start of 2022.

“The reality is these numbers will be updated, at the current rate, by this afternoon and they will be more outdated by tomorrow,” he said.

“That’s the rate at which these attacks are happening. It has become a reality of the everyday life of our clients of Interscope”.

Marais lamented that the reality was these attacks are becoming more violent, more sophisticated and more organised.

He said their buses were chased down the roads by a group of armed people in vehicles, with passengers and drivers forced out and assaulted.

“We have also seen instances where police have rendered assistance in relation to escorting buses. There is a clear pattern where the moment that there is not an escort, there is an attack”, Marais said.

“And for us, the inescapable conclusion is that the information in relation to which buses are escorted and which busses are not escorted, is available to the attackers,” he added.

ALSO READ: Intercape buses and trucks stoned in harrismith

He said the latest spate of violent attacks occurred on 31 July, and then again two nights ago on 3 August, emphasising the situation was very serious.

Of great disappointment to Marais was that information with concrete evidence of the vehicles and the people behind the attacks had been passed on to the police but nothing has happened.

“What we can say is that the police has been fully briefed and provided with documentary evidence,” he said.

Are taxi operators to blame?

Noluthando Sibiya, Autopax national operations manager, said their operations in the major cities across the provinces were under attack and pointed to taxi operators as perpetrators of these attacks.

She said they had incidences where they have been instructed not to load in certain areas in Limpopo and Eastern Cape, with their buses accosted and passengers forced out of the buses.

Sibiya said the attacks extended to their ticketing staff, with a driver killed and another one paralysed in 2019.

“Buses are surrounded by taxis and people brandishing guns telling people to get off. […] There are also limitations on loading time and zones”, she said.

“Some [retailers] have been ordered not to sell our coupons and people intimidated not to buy”.

Sibiya said their buses would be instructed not to load any passengers without pre-bought coupons that passengers are intimidated not to buy.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said it was wrong to generalise and point the finger for the violence at the taxi industry.

Instead, Santaco said crime, in general, has engulfed the country and the taxi industry was also a victim of the much larger issue.

Source: citizen