By Staff Reporter
A coach filled with mourning family members of the Intercape bus driver who was shot and killed in Cape Town last week, was on Friday morning stopped by taxi operators who refused to let them proceed to his hometown of Idutywa in the Eastern Cape for his funeral.
The latest incident has prompted renewed calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Ministers of Police and Transport to respond to the crisis engulfing the long-distance coach industry.
Bangikhaya Machana, 35, was shot outside the Intercape depot in Cape Town on 25 April. He died in Tygerberg Hospital three days later.
A memorial service was held for Machana of lower Crossroads on Tuesday at the company’s depot in Airport Industria. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters, aged 3 and 6.
Intercape laid on one of its coaches to take more than 50 members of the extended Machana family and friends from Cape Town back to his hometown of Idutywa in the Eastern Cape for the funeral which was due to take place on Saturday.
Intercape CEO Johann Ferreira said: “On Friday morning when our coach that was transporting the family members of Bangikhaya, the Intercape driver who was murdered, entered Idutywa, it was chased away by the taxi operators.
“The coach went to the local police station to try and offload the people there.
“The taxis followed them and one of our drivers went inside the police station to get help. The police did not want to come out to help.”
The coach had no choice at that point than to leave and go to Mthatha, more than 80 kilometres away, because of “fears for the safety and wellbeing of family members”.
The coach with mourners eventually returned to Idutywa on Friday afternoon under police escort after Intercape appealed to senior provincial police to intervene.
Ferreira added: “These taxi operators have absolutely no shame, stopping and preventing a grieving family from visiting their hometown to lay to rest a son, husband and father who was so cruelly taken from them.”
Ferreira questioned how local police could simply stand by and let thugs act as a law unto themselves.
“This amounts to a mafia state and the authority of the State has been completely undermined and given over to criminal enterprises,” he said.
“There has not been a single word uttered by President Cyril Ramaphosa despite us having written to him pleading for urgent intervention, or the Minister of Police or Minister of Transport about the ongoing attacks and intimidation directed at Intercape and the long-distance coach industry.
“It is as if they do not care or are afraid to act against these lawless elements,” he added.
“When innocent and grief-stricken people are not even allowed to attend the planned burial of their murdered loved one in peace, then we have reached a new low as a country.”
The Long Distance Coach industry is facing unprecedented levels of violence, including shootings and incidents of rock throwing by rogue elements in the minibus taxi industry.
In the space of just 13 months, there have been over 150 recorded violent incidents, a number of which have led to serious injury of industry employees and passengers on the Long Distance Coach industry.