Robbers hit buses again

Commuters are concerned about their safety.

A woman and two men are the latest victims of robberies on Golden Arrow buses in recent weeks.

Giovanni Arendse, 22, from Rocklands, who witnessed the robbery told the Plainsman that it had traumatised him and prevented him from going to work on Thursday November 21.

He was sitting in the fifth row of seats on the bus travelling from Town Centre to Airport Industria at about 7.15am, when four men got on at the Eisleben bus stop.

A robber stood close to the driver, while the other three men walked down the aisle, demanding commuters’ phones.

Before reaching the next stop they had three phones and a grey Avanza was waiting for them.

Giovanni said this was not the first time he had witnessed a robbery on a bus.

“But with this one I was closer to the robbery,” he said, adding that the passengers did not put up a fight but were hesitant to hand over their phones, which agitated the robbers and caused them to pull out their pistols.

“The passengers started shouting and made the robbers know that the full bus would overpower them,” he said.

A case was opened at Lentegeur police station.

Giovanni said the recent robbery brought back memories of another robbery on a bus he witnessed a few years ago, when he was still at school.

It was during a weekend, when he and friends were en route to Claremont.

“I was at the back of the bus and the robbers did not get to me,” he said.

Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, spokesperson for Golden Arrow Bus Services, confirmed another incident on a bus travelling from Cape Town to Merrydale on Wednesday November 13 and another at the Golden Arrow depot in Philippi on Friday November 1.

“We are deploying additional resources but will not be sharing specifics in this regard,” she said.

In September the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement department signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with GABS that would have officers on duty on buses.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said at the time, that the onboard enforcement would add value to the service and ensure the safety of passengers.

The key focus was for officers to be visible on GABS buses, not just to protect and serve, but also to be a deterrent to possible criminal activity on buses and at bus depots.

The officers conduct stop-and-search operations, including random searches, at predefined bus stops and shelters.

To ensure sustainable service delivery, the City would have bi-monthly meetings with GABS to discuss operational efficiency and deliverables as per the MOA.

“The effectiveness of the law enforcement programme on GABS buses will be monitored by both parties in the interest of the safety of passengers. This programme will show that the City is always willing to assist in initiatives that will contribute to a safer environment for passengers on and off the road. Passengers should support the officers and inform them of any act that could pose a threat to safety on the bus,” said Mr Smith.

Last month law enforcement officers confiscated various items, including a gas pistol, dagga, knives and a pair of scissors.

Officers also assisted in removing passengers who consumed alcohol on buses or displayed anti-social behaviour.

Mr Smith said they had also provided security to passengers and bus drivers whose buses experienced mechanical problems.

“It should be taken into account that there are only 20 officers and that they can’t be on every bus every day. Golden Arrow deploys officers on routes based on operational imperatives,” he said.

“The partnership is still in its infancy, but yes, the City is of the view that it is working and has potential to be expanded. It is critical that we make public transport a safe and viable option for residents, if we are going to make a serious dent in the paralysing traffic congestion that has become part of life in Cape Town and that is why this partnership between the City and Golden Arrow is so important,” said Mr Smith.

“The MOA is in place until February 2020, with the hope to review and extend the programme subject to operational requirements and as agreed upon by both parties.”

There are no new developments on the MyCiTi N2 Express route which has been suspended since May.

Mayoral committee member for transport Felicity Purchase, said yesterday Tuesday December 3, in response to a Plainsman enquiry: “We will inform the public once the service is ready to start operating again.”