Safety MEC reveals long-distance bus services under threat from intimidation.

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Community Safety

Over the last two and a half years there have been 95 reported attacks on long-distance passenger buses in the Eastern Cape. If these acts of economic sabotage continue unchecked, it will ultimately destroy part of our transport network and along with-it jobs.

In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, new Community Safety MEC, Xolile Nqatha, revealed that there has been a dramatic uptick in attacks on long-distance passenger buses, rising from just seven in the 2020/21 financial year, to 61 attacks over the 2021/22 period. A further 27 cases have already been opened for the current financial year.

Of the 67 attacks reported over the 2021/22 period, 17 were malicious damage to property, four were attempted murder and 40 were cases of intimidation.

MEC Nqatha also revealed 4 734 police escorts have already been requested since April this year.

Government and the SAPS must pull out all the stops to prevent the slide of the Eastern Cape into a gangster state. These intimidation tactics are having a potentially devastating impact on the bus industry and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Where is crime intelligence in all of this?

There is a concerted intimidation campaign to deliberately target long-haul bus operators by lawless elements.

The MEC also revealed that drivers are reluctant to drive on certain routes and passengers are reluctant to buy tickets.

Download response

Flights in and out of the Eastern Cape have declined since the Covid-19 pandemic, making these bus services even more critical in providing alternative transport opportunities for travellers. They now play an even more critical role in enabling tourism in our province.

Some areas, such as Cofimvaba, Butterworth, Ngcobo, Tsomo and Dutywa, have become no-go zones for operators.

It has become clear that there is a concerted effort to disrupt the long-haul passenger bus service. These bus services play an important role in the economy.

I will be asking follow-up questions to the Department and SAPS as to what measures are going to be put in place to safeguard passengers, drivers and buses going forward.

The function of government is to ensure that people are free to make their own choices. We cannot afford to have our transport networks destroyed in the Eastern Cape, because along with that will go jobs.