Long-distance bus travellers now worried about their safety.
Cape Town – A robbery by a gang on an Intercape bus on Saturday, has long-distance bus travellers worried about their safety.
Eight armed robbers allegedly made off with cellphones and cash after robbing passengers on the bus that was en route from Joburg to Harare (Zimbabwe). The armed robbers, four of whom were passengers who stopped the bus and were joined by another four, “terrorised all passengers and demanded cash and cellphones”, said an anonymous passenger in a WhatsApp message.
Intercape bus company confirmed the incident and said the matter had been reported to the police in Polokwane.
“Intercape senior management immediately attended to the situation and is working hand in hand with the police to investigate the matter. After the police took statements from parties, the coach travelled further and reached its destination safely,” Intercape said. “This completely random uncontrollable act is regretted by Intercape and we would like to confirm that we strive to keep our passengers safe at all times.”
SA Transport and Allied Workers Union spokesperson Zanele Sabele said most bus companies had cameras on board.
“These should be used to identify the perpetrators. Those companies that don’t have cameras should consider installing them,” Sabele said.
Autopax, a state-owned entity and subsidiary of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), which operates Translux and City-to-City said 80% of their operational buses have telematics and surveillance. “Meaning our buses have a tracking system and cameras on board. The objective is to install in all buses”.
Prasa spokesperson Nana zenani, speaking on behalf of Autopax, said last year they never had incidents of robberies in their buses.
However, Zenani said they do have armed security guards escorting their buses in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal (N3 routes). “This was triggered by minibus taxi intimidation in the areas and not necessarily robbery”.
“Passengers should check their surroundings and report any suspicious behaviour to the driver. Our buses have a panic button on board which will be triggered by the driver should there be a need. A message goes directly to our control room and appropriate action is taken,” Zenani said.
Gordon Makaluza, the secretary of the Western Cape Long Distance Bus Association, said they were also ready for travellers.
Makaluza said the terminus was no longer having problems with long queues and robberies, he urged commuters not to drink alcohol while travelling, “because they tend to force the driver to speed up”.
“We have also communicated with our drivers to behave and to rest when they are tired,” Makaluza said.