Cops ordered to investigate Intercape Bus crime

Cops ordered to investigate Intercape Bus crime. Picture: File

Cops ordered to investigate Intercape Bus crime. Picture: File

Published Feb 14, 2024


The police have failed to properly investigate the ongoing attacks on Intercape buses and it must now investigate each of the crimes reported to it to enable effective prosecution.

This is according to a judgment issued by the Eastern Cape High Court, sitting in Makhanda, which made it clear that the SAPS and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – known as the Hawks – has failed to investigate and prevent the crimes as instances of national priority offences.

The court declared that in relation to the 165 instances of intimidation and violence perpetrated against Intercape’s buses, drivers and passengers and the cases Intercape has opened, that the police failed to investigate and prevent the crimes.

Intercape turned to the court in a bid to force the SAPS and its specialised units to investigate the crimes aimed at its bus services.

Intercape contended that for several years, during the conduct of its operations, it has been subjected to widespread, ongoing and well-documented acts of intimidation and violence at the hands of the taxi industry.

During 2022 Intercape’s buses were shot at 23 times. On one of these occasions a bus driver was fatally wounded. In the early part of last year, prior to the launching of this application, further shootings occurred with some of Intercape’s passengers having been wounded and hospitalised as a result of gunfire directed at the buses. The buses have also been targeted by rock-throwing.

The ongoing criminality, so Intercape submitted, is part of an organised scheme by taxi operators against these buses to enable taxi operators to monopolise transport routes.

This, as Intercape contended, clearly establishes a pattern of racketeering activity and constitutes organised crime.

At the time when this application was launched, Intercape had lodged 165 criminal complaints with the police in respect of acts of violence and intimidation allegedly perpetrated against its drivers, passengers and buses.

Despite this not a single person has been arrested for these offences and no prosecutions are imminent or pending.

Intercape said it was constrained to bring this application out of desperation after a year of engagement with the SAPS had proved fruitless. The application is a final attempt to get the police to take Intercape’s complaint seriously so that further acts of criminality against members of the public who rely on Intercape’s services may be prevented.

The main issue before the court was whether the police have lived up to their constitutional obligations in responding to the complaints.

In September 2022, the court granted an order at the instance of Intercape declaring the MEC for Transport, Eastern Cape and the Minister of Transport to be obligated to take positive steps to ensure that reasonable and effective measures were put in place to provide for the safety and security of long-distance bus drivers and passengers in the Eastern Cape.

Subsequently, the court also granted an order in terms of which the MEC and the minister were directed to take steps to comply with their obligations.

Intercape said since 2015 it had been the victim of widespread and ongoing acts of violence and intimidation throughout the country orchestrated by the taxi industry.

It was not disputed that the violence was not random, but part of a deliberate strategy on the part of certain taxi associations to intimidate and coerce Intercape into agreeing to their unlawful demands.

Intercape said there were some effective interventions by the police in the form of patrols and the escorting of buses, but these were not enough.

The police contend that they are trying their best, despite a lack of resources.

In the opening to his judgment, Acting Judge Olav Ronaasen commented: “We know that we cannot live together without rules which tell us what is right and what is wrong, what is permitted and what is prohibited. We know that it is law which enables men to live together, that creates order out of chaos. We know that law is the glue that holds civilization together.”

Despite Intercape having furnished the police with an extensive amount of evidence and having throughout made itself available to assist them with their investigations and despite the police’s assurance that Intercape’s complaints would be investigated no meaningful investigation has occurred, the judge said.

“… I am satisfied that the police are not meeting their constitutional and statutory obligations and that therefore Intercape has established a case for declaratory relief.”

The court declared that various provincial police commissioners have failed to report the crimes to the DPCI as instances of organised crime and that the DPCI has failed to investigate the matters.

The SAPS and DPCI were ordered to investigate each of the crimes to enable the effective prosecution of each crime individually. They have to submit reports in this regard within 60 days detailing their progress in this regard.

Pretoria News

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