Mbalula to implement action plan to ensure safety of bus drivers

December 20, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja



The Makhanda High Court has ordered that transport minister Fikile Mbalula implement an action plan to ensure the safety of long-distance coach drivers and passengers.

The court on Tuesday ordered that the action plan must be done immediately, and with the utmost urgency.

Urgent relief

This comes after long-distance bus operator, Intercape, sought urgent relief from the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda, which would allow safe passage for its buses through the area.

Judge John Smith ruled that the earlier order of 30 September 2022 would remain enforceable notwithstanding the minister’s application for leave to appeal.

“The court judgment in respect of the minister’s application for leave to appeal is expected early in the New Year.”

Attacks

Intercape has been under siege in recent months, allegedly from taxi operators in the Eastern Cape, with its buses being shot at or stoned.

Some areas in the province like Cofimvaba, Butterworth, Engcobo, Tsomo and Idutywa were declared no-go zones.

At the time of the hearing, more than 150 shootings, stonings and other acts of violence and intimidation directed at Intercape bus drivers and passengers had been reported to police in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

It also included the murder of one of Intercape’s drivers Bangikhaya Machana.

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Mbalula had sought leave to appeal an earlier order by the same court which had compelled him and the MEC for Transport in the Eastern Cape, MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, to coordinate with the South African Police Service (Saps) to come up with an effective plan of action to stop violent attacks on long-distance coaches.

On 30 September, Judge Smith had found that Mabalula and the MEC had failed in their obligations to ensure the safety of bus drivers and passengers in the Eastern Cape.

Action plan

Judge Smith gave the respondents 20 days to come up with an effective plan of action.

In terms of the initial order, Mbalula and Edmund “must ensure that reasonable and effective measures are put in place to provide for the safety and security of long-distance bus drivers and passengers in the Eastern Cape”.

This includes responding to acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated against long-distance bus operators in the Eastern Cape, by cooperating and co-ordinating with the South African Police Services.

Intercape said it had already provided detailed input on what is required for the action plan to be effective and was willing to work with government.

It lamented the fact that progress had been “regrettably slow and much time has already been lost”.

Mbalula’s conduct

Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira described Mbalula’s conduct as “disgraceful” and likened it to what was taking place at Eskom and other sectors of the economy where government inaction had resulted in massive corruption, criminality and the destruction of key infrastructure.

“When government fails to fulfil its basic constitutional obligations, then our country is on a fast and slippery slope to destruction. We only have to look at the current situation with Eskom and load shedding to understand the devastating implications for our economy, our country and our future.”

According to Ferreira, the plan will have to set out the “where, what, when and how” of the actions that will be undertaken to provide for the safety and security of long-distance bus drivers and passengers in the Eastern Cape”.

“The plan cannot be a continuation of business as usual.

“That time has come and gone long ago. If the minister and MEC fail to come up with a proper plan, we will approach the high court again. We will keep going until they get this right,” he said.

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