Golden Arrow commuter fears for life after robbery, upset at ’lack of protection’
Cape Town – A traumatised Sadick Hess from Eerste River has taken a few days’ leave after being robbed at gunpoint on a Golden Arrow bus on the N2 near Hospital Bend.
The 33-year-old admin clerk, who is married, fears for his life, but has no choice but to take the bus to work. He will have to pluck up the courage to ’’put his life at risk again’’.
What pains him, too, is that he phoned Golden Arrow after yesterday’s incident on the Blackheath route from the CBD to lay a claim – having been robbed of his bag, watch and eight-month-old cellphone – ’’but they refused to entertain my issue as there wasn’t any negligence on their part’’.
’’Yet just last week the same thing happened, so we as the passengers on that line feel like we are putting our life in major danger without the backing of Golden Arrow,’’ said Hess.
Commuter and activist Deon Carelse holds the same view, telling the Cape Argus last week Golden Arrow is failing to protect its passengers. The Mitchells Plain route was continually targeted by criminals, he said, with three armed men holding up the driver and passengers.
“Two buses were robbed on the same day two weeks ago in Electric City and a Tygerberg bus with nurses, while a policeman was robbed of his gun and the criminals fled with money and personal belongings.
’’The buses have no proper safety measures. There are no surveillance cameras or escorts on buses. The company must be held accountable.”
Golden Arrow said it is pursuing a number of interventions, but maintains that ’’these robberies form part of a bigger societal problem which government must take accountability for’’.
Hess said the suspects had got on at Woodstock and the robbery happened just after Groote Schuur Hospital on the N2. The robbers got off the bus at Borcherds Quarry and ran off with their loot into Crossroads.
’’Everybody on the bus was robbed, including the driver. At the moment I don’t want to take the bus because if this happened to me yesterday, what can happen to me if I continue taking the bus. It could be my life the next time.
’’Golden Arrow knew that there was an issue on that route with their buses. They should have put measures in place to keep their customers safe, including their staff member.
’’I feel more exposed to crime because of the lockdown. I am forced to take the bus as there are no trains running here on the Northern line towards Strand, but on the train there at least used to be a method by which you could keep yourself safe.
'’There were issues like this before with Golden Arrow, not only on the Blackheath route but also on the Delft bus route. Similar things have happened on the Mitchells Plain bus line.
’’Yet Golden Arrow still isn’t doing anything. I have read their terms and conditions on all the buses, but how does it make sense that Golden Arrow can’t take some responsibility when they knew that these things were happening.’’
Golden Arrow spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Byer told IOL on Tuesday: “Golden Arrow sincerely empathises with Mr Hess. We are very concerned about the robberies taking place on our buses and are pursuing a number of interventions.
’’We are in the process of finalising a longer-term law enforcement unit in partnership with the City and Province which GABS will contribute funding towards.
’’We are also in close contact with SAPS and Law Enforcement with regards to the cases that have been opened and the implementation of stop and search operations.
’’We appreciate this assistance from the authorities but must stress that these robberies form part of a bigger societal problem which government must take accountability for. Private companies such as Golden Arrow cannot replace the role that SAPS and the legal justice system must play in ensuring that all South Africans are safe.
’’Golden Arrow is also investigating a number of additional covert measures including panic buttons, but we are not able to elaborate on these as their efficacy would be compromised.
’’We are still offering a R50 000 reward for any information which leads to the arrest and conviction of these criminals and information can be shared via 0800 11 11 67.
’’In terms of claims against the Company, our Conditions of Carriage do state that we cannot accept responsibility for the criminal actions of others as we are operating a public service on public roads.”