Cape Town – Intercape announced on Wednesday that it was taking court action against the Police Minister for failing to protect the long-distance bus operator.
Intercape said it was “suing Minister of Police Bheki Cele for the complete and utter failure of the police to stop the spate of attacks against the long-distance operator”.
Intercape, in the Eastern Cape, opened its first case of this kind on 4 March 2020.
Since then, Intercape said it has opened a further 164 criminal cases – and “yet still not a single suspect is under arrest and not a single prosecution is underway”.
“Intercape has continued to run the gauntlet of attacks in recent weeks, with at least 14 recorded incidents in the Eastern Cape as coaches travel through the heartland of the province,” the bus operator said.
Coaches have been shot at and stoned, while drivers and passengers have been intimidated allegedly by taxi operators in towns across the province in what Intercape alleges amounts to “a campaign of organised crime” that is “part of a pattern of racketeering activity”.
Intercape said three people have been shot and wounded and two severely assaulted since the beginning of March 2023.
The bus operator said parts of South Africa have been turned into a mafia state, where 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,” Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira said.
“We hold Minister Cele responsible for every failure of the police under his watch and we will not stop until there is full accountability to the travelling public in South Africa.”
Since 2020, Intercape said it has opened “a staggering 167 cases” with the police, predominantly in the Eastern Cape.
In a 112-page affidavit filed with the Makhanda High Court on 31 March 2023, Intercape slammed the police and investigative authorities for their continued failure to stop this “calculated campaign of criminality”.
Intercape said: “As matters presently stand, there are no persons under arrest and no pending prosecutions.”
The bus operator has listed Police Minister General Bheki Cele as 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, along with the Head of the DPCI, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Head of the Investigating Directorate.
Intercape said it had been forced to take this route following the “startling inaction from the Minister of Transport and the MEC for Transport and Community Safety for the Eastern Cape”.
Intercape said attacks, which it blames on taxi operators, have continued despite several court orders compelling the transport minister and provincial counterpart to work with the South African Police Service to ensure the safety of passengers and employees.
“The violence and intimidation have not occurred in isolation but have been coupled with express demands from representatives of the taxi industry to operate on their terms,” Intercape said in court documents.