Long-haul bus company, Intercape has launched a lawsuit against Minister of Police Bheki Cele for their complete and utter failure to protect the operator from 14 attacks.
In a hard-hitting 112-page affidavit issued by the Makhanda High Court on March 31, 2023, Intercape slammed the police and investigative authorities for their continued failure to stop “calculated campaign of criminality”.
The affidavit states in part that, for years, Intercape’s buses, bus drivers, and passengers have been subjected to widespread, ongoing, and well-documented acts of intimidation and violence from the taxi industry.
Intercape has listed Minister of Police Bheki Cele as the first respondent, followed by National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola.
The company also cites the provincial commissioners of the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the North West. In addition, it names the Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), and the Head of the Investigating Directorate.
“Currently, there are no arrests and prosecutions,” said Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira.
Intercape says under the failed leadership of Minister Cele, and President Cyril Ramaphosa who appointed him, parts of South Africa have been turned into a mafia state.
“Taxi operators rule with impunity. The fish rots from the head and we have a police service which has done absolutely nothing to uphold public safety and ensure the arrest of perpetrators,” Ferreira said.
“We hold Minister Cele responsible for every police failure under his watch and we will not stop until there is full accountability to the travelling public in South Africa.”
Since 2020, Intercape claims it has opened a staggering 167 cases and rising with police, predominantly in the Eastern Cape.
Ferreira said passengers and drivers alike have been shot at, stoned and intimidated in towns throughout the Eastern Cape. At least three people have been wounded and two severely assaulted since March.
He said the company has deemed the circumstances as “a campaign of organised crime” that is “part of a pattern of racketeering activity”, and is now calling on Minister Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who appointed him, to take responsibility for the “startling inaction”.
“With the SAPS having done “absolutely nothing to uphold public safety and ensure the arrest of perpetrators”, said Ferreira Intercape. It said it was now begging the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation to intervene and investigate national priority offences they face.
The Intercape company has filed an affidavit in high court. It alleges that the police and investigative authorities have not done enough to stop a criminal campaign.
“From today’s perspective, no suspects are detained and no criminal proceedings are pending.”
The company says is asking for the help of DPCI, a government agency responsible for preventing, combating, and investigating national priority crimes.
Intercape said that it had been forced to take this route following the “startling inaction” of the Minister of Transport and the MEC for Transport and Community Safety in response to the crisis.
Ferreira says attacks against Intercape continue despite court orders compelling the transport minister and provincial counterparts to work with the South African Police Service. This is to ensure passenger and Intercape safety.
“The violence and intimidation against bus operators has been coupled with demands from taxi industry representatives for bus operators to operate on their terms.”
Intercape announced it would increase prices for certain routes to a minimum charges and limit the number of buses operating on each route.
“The buses departing at a specific time should be altered so that minibus taxi operators are satisfied.”
Intercape believes that the correlation between ongoing violence and taxi associations’ demands is not coincidence.
According to Ferreira. taxi associations use violence to drive Intercape and other long-distance bus operators out of certain parts of the country.
Intercape asserts that resistance to its demands has been met with violence, including attacks on buses, drivers, and passengers. In addition, the creation of “no-go zones” in which taxi industry members have made it difficult and dangerous for long-distance bus operators to do their jobs.
There are areas in the Eastern Cape towns of Butterworth, Ngcobo, Tsomo, Dutywa, and Cofimvaba where the police cannot effectively patrol, due to high crime levels.