Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Concern for safety of Cape Town’s bus commuters intensifies

Public transport services in Cape Town are plagued by crime, vandalism and violent protests. It is not a new phenomenon, but it is intensifying. 

“We are now looking at an average of seven robberies per week. Previously two a week would be a high figure,” said Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, spokesperson of Golden Arrow Bus Service. Some target only the driver and others target the driver and passengers.”

Last year the bus service reported that more than 200 buses were attacked each month. These attacks exclude those where buses were badly damaged or destroyed when they were petrol-bombed and stoned during violent protests.

In a report to the Western Cape legislature, Golden Arrow said that six to eight robberies were committed weekly, either on buses or at stations and bus stops.

“We operate under very difficult circumstances much of the time, but our passengers rely on us and we don’t avoid any areas unless we have to make a minor route diversion,” said Dyke-Beyer.

The City of Cape Town’s public transport services MyCiTi and Dial-a-Ride have also been targeted by criminals. The city’s mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said these services “are also targeted during violent protests, and we have seen a disturbing trend of attempted hijackings of our DAR vehicles that are transporting commuters with special needs, such as those in wheelchairs”.

“Every attack leaves commuters and bus drivers and other personnel severely traumatised. Some are killed, some sustain injuries and some loose hard-earned money and valuables,” said Purchase. 

The City of Cape Town has publically called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to consider establishing a dedicated policing unit to investigate public transportation crimes.
Purchase confirmed that their department also sent letters to the two ministers. 

“The South African Police Service is responsible for crime prevention, investigating crime and making arrests,” Purchase argued. “Still, we have seen few, if any, successes insofar as this relates to the ongoing attacks on public transport service providers, infrastructure and assets, and the robbery of commuters.” 

Negotiations between the City of Cape Town and Golden Arrow are underway to establish their own unit “to assist with the safety of commuters and bus drivers”. It is yet to be confirmed how many law enforcement officers will assist the unit and when the unit will become operational.   

“The city will inform the public accordingly, once an agreement has been concluded,” said Purchase.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

MK committee to look into Gupta influence in military veteran’s...

Party insiders say a report on the Guptas’ association with leaders of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association will help rid the structure of Jacob Zuma’s most loyal allies

More top stories

There is shit in the Hennops River: ‘No way you...

E.Coli counts in tributaries feeding the Hennops River run into tens of millions, far above the permitted limit

DarkSide: Following the money in the crypto age

Ransomware is the fastest-growing cryptocurrency-related crime. Known payments to ransomware attackers rose 337% from 2019 to 2020, when they reached over R5.4-billion worth of cryptocurrency

Naspers and Prosus in share swap Catch-22

Asset managers are concerned about the share exchange but others welcome it because Naspers has dominated the JSE

As South Africa’s Covid infections surge, the number of jabs...

Hospitals are under strain, nurses are burning out and infections are on the rise, but there are limited Covid-19 vaccine doses available

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…