Cape Town - Taxi operators in the Eastern Cape refused to let mourners from Cape Town headed to lay to rest the slain Intercape bus driver who was shot and killed last week passage to his hometown of Idutywa.
Bangikhaya Machana, 35, was shot outside the Intercape depot in Cape Town on April 25. He died in Tygerberg Hospital three days later.
Machana leaves behind his wife and two daughters, aged three and six.
Mourning relatives were stopped on Friday by taxi operators.
This incident has prompted renewed calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Ministers of Police and Transport to respond to the crisis engulfing the long-distance coach industry, Intercape said.
Machana was employed by the company in 2021.
Last week, a memorial service was held for Machana from lower Crossroads at the company’s depot in the Airport Industria.
In order to fulfil the family’s wishes, Intercape availed one of its coaches to take more than 50 members of the extended Machana family and friends to the Eastern Cape, where the funeral would be taking place on Saturday.
However, Intercape chief executive officer (CEO) Johann Ferreira said on Friday morning, as its coach arrived in Idutywa, it was chased away by taxi operators.
“The coach went to the local police station to try and offload the people there. The taxis followed them, and one of our drivers went inside the police station to get help. The police did not want to come out to help.
“The coach had no choice at that point than to leave and go to Mthatha, more than 80 kilometres away, because of ‘fears for the safety and wellbeing of family members’,” Ferreira said.
He said the coach with mourners eventually returned to Idutywa on Friday afternoon with a police escort, this only after the company appealed to senior provincial police to intervene in the matter.
Ferreira slammed taxi operators for their lack of empathy towards a grieving family.
“These taxi operators have absolutely no shame, stopping and preventing a grieving family from visiting their hometown to lay to rest a son, husband and father who was so cruelly taken from them.
“This amounts to a mafia state, and the authority of the State has been completely undermined and given over to criminal enterprises,” he said.
Ferreira said there had not been a word of feedback from Ramaphosa or the other ministers since the company has been writing pleading for an urgent intervention regarding the ongoing attacks and intimidation directed at Intercape and the long-distance coach industry.
“It is as if they do not care or are afraid to act against these lawless elements.
“When innocent and grief-stricken people are not even allowed to attend the planned burial of their murdered loved one in peace, then we have reached a new low as a country,” Ferreira said.
The company said the long distance coach industry had faced unprecedented levels of violence.
It said in the space of 13 months, 150 violence incidents, a number of which have led to serious injuries of employees and passengers, have been recorded.