Breakthrough in ongoing Golden Arrow bus robberies
Cape Town - A long-awaited breakthrough has finally been made in the ongoing robberies on Golden Arrow buses, with at least five suspects arrested in two separate incidents so far.
That was revealed by Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) general manager Derick Meyer, during a deployment of law enforcement officers on their buses on the N2 near the airport on Thursday.
Meyer said on February 12, three suspicious men were spotted waiting at a bus stop on the corner of New Eisleben and Miller Road in Crossroads – the three matched the description of three suspects who had previously targeted the Golden Arrow buses.
He said the suspects attempted to flee and all three were apprehended in Lusaka informal settlement.
He said on February 15, two other suspects were observed at the town centre in Mitchells Plain waiting to board a bus to Cape Town.
“Unbeknown to the suspects, the bus driver was informed to proceed directly to Mitchells Plain police station. The two suspects were subsequently arrested and one was found to have a knife in his possession,” he said.
He said the next step would be to link all five suspects to previous crimes and ensure a successful prosecution.
Safety and security Mayco member JP Smith said the City’s Safety and Security Directorate would continue to do its part in ensuring criminals were caught and brought to book.
The move to initiate stop-and-searches comes after a public outcry over the ongoing robberies and attacks on Gabs, with commuters and activists blaming the bus company management for allegedly failing to protect their commuters when they board their buses.
Gabs spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said an average of six to seven buses were robbed every week over the last six months, with a new trend in more than 50% of them where only drivers were targeted.
A commuter, Gairoenosa Benjamin, who was on a bus from the town centre to Mitchells Plain, said they were safe at the moment; however, she asked how long the officials would conduct the stop-and-searches on the buses.
"We want to see more of these searches, because we want to feel and be safe," said Benjamin, as the officers continued the search.
Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn said they had been having marathon meetings with Gabs management on the issue of safety on buses. Even so, he reiterated that the union federation was not happy.
He said they would hold a peaceful protest in front of Gabs depot next Thursday to express their disappointment in management's failure to protect their commuters and bus drivers.
Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said all stakeholders had made “excellent progress” in recent weeks.
Madikizela said the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works and Gabs were on the brink of testing a technological solution aimed at eliminating the problem.
"I am confident that the narrative around safety on Golden Arrow buses will be a very different one in the coming weeks," said Madikizela.
Meyer said Gabs was testing two separate sets of cameras and panic buttons. A third set of cameras would also be fitted for testing, in collaboration with the Provincial Department of Transport.
"The panic button app is in development and drop safes will also be installed as a pilot. Announcements will be made regarding the dedicated Bus Enforcement Unit as soon as possible," he said.
Police spokesperson André Traut said serious and violent crimes were high on the priority list of the Western Cape police and every endeavour was being made to bring to an end the latest trend where robberies were perpetrated on buses.
Traut said partnership policing and a holistic approach between all role-players were the major factors at play to ensure the safety of commuters.
"Inroads are being made in this regard, and the recent arrest of perpetrators is the point of departure for many more crime-combating initiatives to follow in this province,” he said.