Citizen Reporter
4 minute read
1 May 2022
9:08 am

Intercape says rogue taxi associations targeting its buses

Citizen Reporter

The long-distance coach called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. Criminal cases have been opened with Saps.

Intercape bus attack. Picture: Supplied.

Intercape buses came under attack on Thursday and Friday during long-distance trips between Johannesburg and Eastern Cape.

In the latest incidents:

Thursday night

On Thursday evening at 19:19, an Intercape bus en route from Pretoria to Umtata was shot at by occupants in an unknown sedan vehicle on the M2 highway in Johannesburg.

Suspects fired three shots at the driver’s side of the coach, and the final shot narrowly missed the driver.

But as the vehicle sped past, the assailants fired another five shots, with the first, second and third shots hitting the windscreen and fourth and fifth rounds hitting the coach low on the front left side.

The first shot narrowly missed the driver and co-driver who were sitting in the front window seat.

The sedan vehicle then sped away.

The Intercape driver who managed to keep control of the vehicle slowed down, and eventually pulled over safely to the side of the road.

Intercape responders arrived at the scene and were later joined by Johannesburg Metro Police Department and SA Police Service members who took statements and collected and photographed evidence.

The passengers were transferred to another coach to continue their journey. A case has been registered at the Jeppe police station.

Friday night

Then, on Friday night at 19:40, an Intercape bus en route from Pretoria to Umtata came under attack as it was approaching the Geldenhuys Interchange from the M2 to join the N3 Highway.

Video footage from the bus appears to show a gunman stationed on the bridge who fired two shots at the coach, with one of the rounds hitting a passenger in the leg.

The driver, despite suffering facial injuries from the shattered glass fragments, drove straight to Germiston where he was met by a police vehicle that escorted the coach to Germiston police station.

A Germiston Hospital ambulance arrived and treated the injured passenger and driver.

Also on Friday night, at 19:45, approximately seven kilometres before Johannesburg Station on the M2 highway, the occupants of an unidentified car opened fire on an Intercape coach travelling from Durban to Pretoria.

The bullet was fired through the right-side driver’s door and exited the left side window, injuring the driver, who was struck by flying glass.

An ER24 Ambulance was contacted to meet the coach at Joburg Station where the driver was treated.

No other injuries were reported and passengers were transferred to another coach to continue their journey.

Calls for intervention industry buckles under attacks

“We could no longer keep quiet about the extortion and violence directed at Intercape and the long-distance coach industry in this country,” said Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira.

“We made a public appeal to President Ramaphosa and government and this has since resulted in an escalation of attacks against Intercape coaches over these last two days.”

The attacks come days after Intercape went public about an alleged violent campaign waged against the industry by rogue taxi associations.

In the space of just 13 months, there have been over 150 recorded violent incidents, a number of which have led to serious injuries to employees and passengers of the bus operators in the Long-Distance Coach industry.

He said despite there having been over 150 reported incidents in the last year and over 60 cases opened with various police stations, the majority in the Eastern Cape, there had not been a single arrest to date.

“These gunmen and the murderers of our employee in Cape Town are out there walking freely and brazenly and think nothing of shooting at innocent people,” Ferreira said.

Ferreira was referring to a driver who died in a Cape Town hospital on Thursday after he was shot and critically wounded at a bus depot.

“How are we expected to operate as a licenced business when there are criminal elements who openly target us? This is anarchy, plain and simple, and unless this is stopped and dealt with decisively our country is on a path to self-destruction.”

The attacks so far have centred mainly around key towns and routes in the Eastern Cape, but there have also been attacks in the Cape Metropole and Gauteng. In some instances, taxi operators in the Eastern Cape have forced passengers off coaches or warned them against boarding.

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Ferreira labelled the campaign of violence which has included shootings, arson attacks and incidents of rock-throwing, as “business capture” or “industry cleansing”, and further called for support from the broader business sector, the labour movement, as well as civil society.

“Who in their right mind will ever want to invest time and money in an economy which is held hostage by criminal enterprises who operate as a law unto themselves and with complete impunity.

Some routes in the Eastern Cape have become complete no-go zones for buses as taxi associations seek to drive competition out of the region.

Intercape has written personally to President Ramaphosa and government pleading for intervention to stop the campaign which is aimed at forcing it and other long-distance coach companies out of operating in certain regions and routes. 

The company is currently engaging with the South African Police Service at the National Joint Operational Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) level in a hid to address the violent attacks.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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