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Intercape driver dies as gunmen target long-distance bus company

Intercape buses, staff and passengers have been targeted in a series of attacks.
Intercape buses, staff and passengers have been targeted in a series of attacks.
Image: Intercape

A 35-year-old Intercape bus driver died in a Cape Town hospital on Thursday after being shot outside the company’s depot.

The fatality was followed by attacks on the long-distance bus operator’s fleet in Gauteng.

In a statement on Saturday, the company said the attacks came days after it went public about a “violent campaign waged against the industry by rogue taxi associations”.

The attacks in Gauteng, which left two people injured, happened on Thursday and Friday evenings.

“It came after Intercape, one of the industry’s largest and longest-standing companies, appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government to urgently intervene to stop the violence directed at the long-distance coach industry,” the company said.

“A 35-year-old Intercape bus driver died in a Cape Town hospital on Thursday days after being shot and critically wounded outside the company’s depot.

“In the space of just 13 months, there have been over 150 recorded violent incidents, a number of which have led to serious injuries to employees and passengers of the bus operators in the long-distance coach industry.”

The company said assailants in a car opened fire on one of its buses, which was travelling from Pretoria to Mthatha, on the M2 in Johannesburg just after 7pm on Thursday.

“A total of three shots were fired into the driver’s side of the coach, with the final shot narrowly missing the driver,” said the statement.

“As the vehicle sped past, the assailants fired another five shots, the first, second and third shots hitting the windscreen and fourth and fifth rounds hitting the coach low on the front left side. The first shot narrowly missed the driver and co-driver who were sitting in the front window seat. The sedan vehicle sped away.

“The Intercape driver managed to keep control of the coach, slowed down and eventually pulled over safely to the side of the road. The passengers were transferred to another coach to continue their journey. A case was registered at the Jeppe police station.”

Two other buses were attacked on Friday. The first one was attacked at 7.40pm while approaching the Geldenhuys Interchange from the M2 to join the N3. It was also travelling from Pretoria to Mthatha.

“Video footage from the bus appears to show a gunman stationed on the bridge who fired two shots at the coach, with one of the rounds striking a passenger in the leg,” said the statement.

“The driver, despite suffering facial injuries from the shattered glass fragments, drove straight to Germiston where he was met by a police vehicle that escorted the coach to the Germiston police station. A Germiston Hospital ambulance arrived and treated the injured passenger and driver.

“Also on Friday night, at 7.45pm, around 7km before Johannesburg station on the M2 highway, the occupants of an unidentified car driving in the fast lane opened fire on an Intercape coach travelling from Durban to Pretoria.

“The bullet was fired through the right-side driver’s door and exited the left-side window, injuring the driver who was struck by flying glass.

“An ER24 ambulance was contacted to meet the coach at Johannesburg station where the driver was treated. No other injuries were reported and passengers were transferred to another coach to continue their journey.”

Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira condemned the attacks.

“We could no longer keep quiet about the extortion and violence directed at Intercape and the long-distance coach industry in this country. We made a public appeal to President Ramaphosa and the government and this has since resulted in an escalation of attacks against Intercape coaches over these last two days.”

Ferreira said there had been more than 150 incidents last year and 60 criminal cases had been opened, with no arrests. He said most incidents were in the Eastern Cape.

“These gunmen and the murderers of our employee in Cape Town are out there walking freely and brazenly and think nothing of shooting at innocent people,” Ferreira said.

“How are we expected to operate as a licensed business when there are criminal elements who openly target us? This is anarchy, plain and simple, and unless this is stopped and dealt with decisively our country is on a path to self-destruction.”

Ferreira described the shootings, arson attacks and incidents of rock-throwing, as “business capture” or “industry cleansing”. 

He called for support from the broader business sector, the labour movement, as well as civil society.

“Who in their right mind will ever want to invest time and money in an economy which is held hostage by criminal enterprises who operate as a law unto themselves and with complete impunity?” he said.

“Today it is the long-distance coach, the mining and construction industries, tomorrow it will be other sectors of the economy which simply cannot afford to shed any more jobs, and which need to create the right climate for investment in order to stimulate and grow our economy.”

TimesLIVE


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