Damaged Intercape bus.

The death of the driver of Bangui Machana took place amid a campaign of violence against the bus industry, and the state is out of action, says CEO of Intercape Johann Ferreira.

There has been talk of a failed state as South Africa tackles current electricity problems and struggles with rising unemployment in an economy plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, the specter of xenophobia, civil unrest in 2021 and the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods.

But at least there have been attempts to deal with these crises. What happens when the state is absent from lawlessness? If he stays away from his constitutional mandate to obey the laws of this country and his duty is to take care of the protection of innocent, law-abiding citizens.

Unfortunately, my company Intercape and the intercity bus industry are feeling the answer to this question. Like private companies in mining and construction, among others, and even semi-public companies such as Prasa.

The fare is taken into account much more than the profit. Unrecorded losses in investments are restrained, jobs have not been created, and taxes have not been collected.

Moreover, ordinary citizens pay a premium that they cannot afford to cover the costs of criminal defense racketeering or direct extortion imposed on private and public companies.

One example is the near-complete collapse of the passenger rail system due to infrastructure looting and direct arsons, leaving poor communities in remote areas paying more to get to work or even look for work.

There is also a tragic human dimension.

The driver of the Intercape bus, Bangui Machana, was shot dead minutes after leaving the company’s depot at Cape Town Airport on April 25. Two attackers fired 21 shots into the cab, injuring the 35-year-old husband and father of two young girls aged three and six. Three days later he died at the hospital from his injuries.

Bangihai Machana

The driver of Banghi Machan, who died as a result of violence against bus drivers.

Unfit items

Bangui’s death came amid a campaign of violence against Intercape and other companies in the intercity bus industry by fraudsters in the taxi industry. In 13 months, more than 160 cases of shootings, arson, stone-throwing and other acts of intimidation have been reported. More than 100 criminal cases have been opened in various police stations in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.

The message is clear – there are fraudulent elements in taxi associations who do not want intercity buses to operate in certain regions and on certain routes, or they have to pay money for extortion to be allowed to do so. This message was carried out in various ways, including forcibly expelling passengers from buses and getting into minibuses at gunpoint.

The South African Police Service is disappointed. To date, we are still awaiting arrests for these incidents.

We – Intercape, as well as other intercity bus operators – have previously written to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalule and Police Minister Becky Cele, asking for urgent intervention before an innocent person dies. There was no answer.

Speaking at the 6th National Electoral Conference of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTAKA) on Monday, May 9, Minister Mbalula said: “The history of this industry, which dates back to past conflicts and violence, can never be complete without reflection on collective efforts by increasing its market share and positioning it as the preferred mode of transport for the vast majority of passengers. These efforts have not always been achieved by fair and reasonable means. “

Urging Santa to take the lead in managing unity in the taxi industry, Minister Mbalula said: “It can never be acceptable for a gun barrel to determine who is driving which route and who can compete. Violence that continues to characterize taxi operations around the world. ‘is a symptom of a leadership vacuum.

“Start the plate, restrain your members and deal harshly with those who solve violence as a solution to problems. We will not hesitate to throw them a book and take away their licenses to operate and close the affected routes.”

These are strong words of the Minister of Transport, but no action has been taken against the terror perpetrated in the intercity bus industry in South Africa by some elements in the taxi industry.

As CEO, I wrote to President Cyril Ramaphos on April 29 – the day after Banguiha died at the hospital – to “respectfully draw your attention to the crisis” and “demonstrate the seriousness and urgency of the situation”.

“The intercity bus industry is under severe and criminal attack. The attack comes from informal and formal associations in the taxi industry … “- I wrote.

“The situation is at a turning point … It is horrible and frightening to every bus driver, passenger and Intercape employee, as well as other intercity buses. I am afraid that new attacks are imminent and that more people will die. I humbly and respectfully ask your intervention as a matter of urgency ”.

There has been no response from the President of South Africa yet.

The president and cabinet members in charge of police and transport are aware of the situation facing the intercity bus industry and other sectors of the economy that are being held for ransom by thugs and brutal extortionists. They also know that this poses an existential threat to the rule of law, our constitutional order and the prospects for economic recovery and a better life for all the people of this country.

Right now, unfortunately, fraud and criminals are under control. They even went so far as not to allow the grieving family of Banghi Machana to attend his funeral in peace and dignity at Dutyva in the Eastern Cape on the weekend of May 8th. However, the state is not working.

Johann Ferreira is the CEO of Intercape. His views are his own.

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