The Portfolio Committee on Tourism met on a virtual platform to receive a briefing from the South African Police Service (SAPS) on the national intervention to prevent attacks on long-distance bus operators, which had negative implications for domestic and foreign tourism in South Africa.
The SAPS presented the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure and the Stability Priority Committee’s report that provided feedback on criminality affecting the Intercape Bus Company. The presentation covered the involvement of stakeholders and their responsibilities, the five operational pillars being implemented, the provinces that were affected, the actions that had been undertaken, and the recoveries that had been made. The Eastern and Western Cape provinces have registered a high number of incidents related to attacks on long-distance buses in the past 12 months. Long Distance Bus companies travelling between the two provinces include but not limited to Inter Cape, Trans lux and Greyhound. The bus-related incidents in the main include malicious injury to property, intimidation, assault, attempted murder and murder crimes. Statistics show Inter Cape is the most targeted company; it accounts for 69 cases registered for 2022/2023. The Eastern and Western Cape Provinces have registered 61 and 8 cases respectively . The bus companies reportedly had numerous informal meetings with the taxi community in both the Eastern and Western Cape, where bus fare and limitation of buses travelling between the two provinces and protection fee were subjects of discussion. Inter Cape have experienced more serious shootings since July 2022. Bus companies were subjected to paying the expenses for the meetings, i.e., the cost of flights. Other long-distance bus operators have indicated that they were the target of minibus taxi operators, currently Inter Cape is the primary long-distance bus operator being targeted. It is alleged that the taxi industry has threatened acts of violence should their demands not be complied with.
47 incidents were reported that led to the opening of cases. Three people were arrested. Of these 47 cases, 11 was closed as undetected, three to court, two SPP, six withdrawn before court. 25 cases are pending investigation to enable a decision to be made regarding the viability of the prosecution of the case. No case has been finalised as guilty. Three cases are on the court roll.
Members commended the work the SAPS was doing to ensure that South Africans were safe. The Committee also shared various concerns, and asked the SAPS what proactive actions they had undertaken to prevent future attacks. They asked if the surveillance mechanisms that the SAPS had put in place were effective, and what their experiences were with provincial Members of Executive Councils' (MECs') willingness to participate in addressing these issues, and if engagements were being held with affected parties to ensure that conflict resolution was taking place.
The Committee was satisfied with the SAPS’ presentation, commenting that it had been comprehensive and would be of great assistance in addressing the issues.
The Committee Secretariat noted apologies from the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Minister of Police and the Deputy Minister of Tourism. He also acknowledged the presence of the Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu.
The Chairperson said the meeting was being held due to a shocking presentation the Committee had received from the Intercape Bus Company. This presentation contained elements of criminality and allegations surrounding assistance provided by government and law enforcement agencies. The Committee had therefore decided that because the national tourism industry was affected by attacks which put local and international tourists in danger, and their safety was of great importance, the Committee needed to engage with relevant stakeholders so informed decisions could be made regarding appropriate interventions. This was the reason for the Committee’s current engagement with the South African Police Service (SAPS).
She said crime was a huge hindrance to tourism and it was important to ensure that this was addressed so that the tourism industry could contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP). The festive season was almost here, which meant increased tourism. It was important to ensure the safety of local and international tourists, especially concerning transportation. The high crime rates, as tabled in Parliament by Minister Bheki Cele, and especially the current attacks on transportation, were contributors to international tourists being uncertain about visiting South Africa.
Lt Gen Tebello Mosikili, Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, introduced her delegation which included Lieutenant General MM Mothlhala, Major General SM Sibiya, Major General M Peters, Major General L Rabie, Colonel KB Steyn and Lieutenant Colonel IM Mlambo.
Presentation by National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure
Lt Gen Mosikili led the presentation, and provided feedback on the acts of criminality affecting the Intercape Bus Company.
She said that five operational pillars were being implemented to accelerate and enhance a multidisciplinary approach to address criminal activities related to the transport industry.
- Intelligence gathering, analysis, coordination and profiling -- National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC), Intelligence Coordinating Committee (ICC);
- Proactive approach: high visibility, disruptive operations (SAPS, private security, municipality, traffic, Metro Police) -- NICOC, ICC;
- Combat approach: rapid response, intelligence-driven operations -- Integrated teams;
- Reactive through detection, tracking, prosecutorial guided investigation and case management -- SAPS, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), Finance Intelligence Centre (FIC) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA);
- Communication and liaison: educational awareness and success -- Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), SAPS and Department of Tourism (DT)
Pillar 1: Intelligence gathering, analysis, coordination and profiling
Trends and tendencies:
In the Eastern Cape, the suspects target the buses on the way to various destinations by stoning them, shooting at them or draining the passengers. In the Western Cape, all the incidents involving shooting at buses took place in close proximity to the depot in Bishop Lavis.
The suspects place stones on the road, forcing the driver to stop and upon the stopping of the bus, they throw stones at the bus. This modus operandi was noted in Cradock in particular.
Intelligence further indicated that taxi bosses demanded that Intercape pay for the flights and accommodation costs when travelling from the Eastern Cape to attend meetings.
There was intelligence gathering and monitoring of the identified targets, who were also operating as taxi owners.
Targeted Routes / Hot Spots: Eastern Cape
R61 from Mthatha via Ngcobo, Cofimvaba, Komani, Cradock and Graaff-Reinet, which joins the N9 to Aberdeen, involving acts of intimidation (Intimidation)
N6 from Queenstown to Aliwal North to Gauteng (Intimidation, Attempted Murder)
Pillar 2: Proactive approach: high visibility, disruptive operations
The affected provinces were the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Actions executed in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng had both resulted in four arrests. There had been two arrests in the Western Cape, and the recovery of 98 firearms, 1 264 rounds of ammunition, and 38 vehicles.
Pillar 3: Combat approach
The combat approach would be applied using the National Crime Combating Strategy (NCCS) geographical and organised crime approach.
The geographical approach involved intelligence-driven operations to prevent, combat and detect crime in identified hotspots. Implementing stabilisation and normalisation were implemented using the five pillar approach.
The organised crime approach disrupts and neutralises syndicates involved in identified organised criminal activities utilising unconventional methods. This involved prosecutorial guided investigations, and following the money and proceeds of crime.
Pillar 4: Reactive through Detection: Case Management
These cases involved intimidation, shooting incidents and vehicle stoning.
There were 104 cases in the Eastern Cape, four in Gauteng, four in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), two in North West and 12 in the Western Cape.
During the period under consideration, there were eight reported cases and two arrests in the Western Cape, and 69 reported cases -- but no arrests -- in the Eastern Cape.
Providing details of related cases, Lt Gen Mosikili said 47 incidents had been reported that led to the opening of cases, and three people had been arrested. Of these 47 cases, 11 were closed as undetected, three went to court, two to the Senior Public Prosecutor (SPP), and six were withdrawn. 25 cases were pending investigation to enable a decision to be made regarding the viability of the prosecution of the case. No case had yet been finalised as guilty. Three cases were on the court roll.
Pillar 5: Communication and Liaison
The activities involved establishing a media protocol, media releases and briefings, media monitoring, awareness campaigns, and coordination of all general security-related communication activities.
See presentation for further details
The Chairperson said the presentation had been insightful, and would be of great assistance moving forward. She asked what happened after a bus arrived at a destination in another province, and whether the NATJoints had systems in place to monitor civilians. Regarding the attempted murders, there was a note in the presentation that no registration was found on a white Polo vehicle. This had confused her because during the presentation given by the Intercape Bus Company, there was an image of a white Polo with a visible number plate, and Members had questioned why arrests had not been made when there was a visible number plate.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) asked what exactly the bus company was refusing to pay. It was important to clarify this, because sometimes compliance was assumed when there was not any.
Mr H April (ANC) thanked SAPS for their presentation and commended them for addressing the statistics the Committee had been concerned about. SAPS and other law enforcement agencies made a lot of effort. However, he raised concerns about using SAPS by private and majority white-owned companies as a private police force by writing to the President. He understood that tourism was greatly affected and SAPS’s resources were thinly spread, but his concern remained. He commended the SAPS for their work in addressing safety concerns and ensuring South Africa was a safe place for all who lived in it.
Ms S Maneli (ANC) referred to the provinces that were not mentioned in the presentation, and asked if this was an indication that no incidents had occurred in these provinces or had not been reported. What was being done to ensure the incidents were Addressed if it was the latter? She asked about the effectiveness of the surveillance mechanisms implemented, given the increased number of cases of attacks on long-distance buses. She also asked what SAPS's experience had been on the willingness and participation of the Members of Executive Councils (MECs) of both the Eastern Cape and Western Cape to address these issues.
Mr M de Freitas (DA) said the SAPS presentation indicated that the SAPS had details of the affected areas. In the previous presentation by Intercape, it was clear they also had details of the affected areas and registrations. What was the SAPS doing to proactively address this criminal activity, as everything presented to the Committee seemed to be reactive? Why was there no proactive action taking place? He added that roadblocks were not proactive, as they did not resolve issues.
Lt Gen Mosikili said her colleagues would respond to questions related to their fields, and she would provide an overarching response on the SAPS strategy.
Lt Gen Michael Mohlala, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing and Operations, touched on proactive action and what was being done to combat the issues. In terms of the surveillance of buses between provinces as mentioned in the presentation, there were visible vehicle checkpoints and high visibility operations. There were also flying squads and highway patrols. SAPS was doing the surveillance of buses in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies such as provincial traffic police, metro police and police departments. In terms of proactive action as part of the five pillar approach, the first approach was proactive. The other pillars included roadblocks, and different NatJoints instructions were issued to the provinces, especially where provinces connected. This meant joint roadblocks between provinces were being implemented.
Maj Gen Z Mkhwanazi, Component Head: Public Order Policing, said proactive actions were being undertaken which were intelligence driven. This was indicated by Pillar 1, which required information, and Pillar 2. There were also trilateral operations, as it was clear that the Western Cape and Eastern Cape faced the most issues. The Northern Cape was then in a trilateral operation to ensure visibility in the province, to avoid any spillover. However, the issue was the difficulty in determining what was going on in the Western Cape (WC) and Eastern Cape (EC) central business districts (CBDs). Proactively there were member deployments and the public policing order was very involved with this. There were also registers to monitor where and if members were being deployed.
Regarding provinces that were excluded in the presentation, he said the priority committee did include these provinces in their engagements, but it was clear to them that the provinces that were more affected were the WC and EC. Gauteng was affected, but the nature of the attacks differed from the other two provinces as they were more sporadic in Gauteng. He also added that excluded provinces such as Limpopo had requested members to be deployed proactively on the Intercape bus routes to get ahead of the issue.
On the effectiveness of the meetings being held with provinces, he said the EC and WC were holding their meetings where these issues were being looked at because some cases had to be transferred from the EC to WC and vice versa, depending on where the crime was committed. The SAPS head office was there only to ask what was happening on the ground and to offer support to the provinces where needed. This occurred especially when specialised units were involved and the Pillar 3 combat approach was being implemented.
Lt Gen (Adv) Thembisile Patekile, Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, said that after the four cases and arrests, no other cases had been reported. The police were visible on the main routes and were busy on the N1 and N2, and cross-border operations were underway in the WC, EC and Northern Cape (NC). He added that bus pick-up points and bus routes were being visited daily, especially the depots. The main depot was in Cape Town, and was visited twice a day. The team was operating between the EC and WC and investigating these issues, and solutions would hopefully be found soon.
What had been picked up was that cases would occur in the EC, but were reported in Cape Town, which meant these cases needed to be transferred. Visiting the crime scenes was a problematic part. On engagements with bus companies, including Intercape, he said incidents to which the team had started to respond, were being reported. There were also almost weekly communications, and they had appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Transport, the Select Committee on Transport and the Provincial Legislature regarding the same matters. He hoped that with assistance from the communities and more witnesses, the cases would be cracked and arrests would occur.
Maj Gen R Mogale, Component Head: Crime Investigation Services, referred to the registration of the white Polo and acknowledged that it did appear in the photograph with a registration number. However, when a check was done on the registration number, it was discovered it did not match the vehicle, so further investigation was required. This further investigation entailed going through footage received from other sources to link the vehicle with the crime. Exhibits seized at the crime scene were also being looked at to make connections between any firearm that might be seized during operations being conducted. The investigation took a long time because it was important to ensure that the correct person and vehicle were apprehended.
Lt Gen Mosikili said the five-pillar approach sought to look at all areas, using the preventative intelligence-driven compilation of the profiling of persons of interest, and the combat approach which provides both the operational team and the crime prevention detectives with information. This was the approach that the priority committee had put in place. Regarding preventive action, slide 16 highlighted all the actions undertaken before the occurrence of incidents, such as when communication platforms and lines were opened between the joint structures and the affected bus liners.
The Deputy National Commissioner said the input and advice given by the Committee were welcomed, and the SAPS would continue to do everything that was needed to ensure South Africans were safe. Other methods would be investigated and implemented if the ones they had set out were ineffective. If necessary, relevant external and internal role players would also be roped in, using the NatJoint structure to ensure effective mechanisms were in place. The establishment of the priority committee had been to address such issues.
Ms P Mpushe (ANC) asked a follow-up about SAPS’ proactive actions. She asked if there had been any engagements by the joint national and provincial committees with affected parties to ensure conflict resolution, considering the number of issues that were discussed in the meeting concerning what instigated the acts. Conflict resolution was a means of preventing future occurrences and spilling over into other provinces.
Lt Gen Mosilili asked if Maj Gen Mkhawanazi could respond to the follow-up question. She said that the provincial commissioner and the provincial and national joint structures had indicated earlier the involvement of affected bus liners in highlighting specific hot spots that were not yet identified. Gen Patekile had indicated that some cases were not reported when bus drivers felt it would be safe to approach only police stations that would be near. This resulted in cross-provincial reporting, where cases needed to be transferred. They were working on this, and the intelligence that would be gathered would enable engagement with those affected to get information relating to reported cases. Also, before operations were undertaken, they would get to know the routes the affected bus liners were taking to take proactive action at identified hotspots.
Maj Gen Mkhwanazi said that to get information and deal with issues in their meetings, it was requested that Intercape send a delegate who would sit in these meetings and indicate all the routes taken by their buses and at what times. This was to ensure that police could be deployed along these bus routes, to proactively address issues. Using the information provided on the number of buses and their routes, they would be able to make proactive deployments along these bus routes to assist should any issue arise. This did not mean they would be escorting the buses, but simply making deployments to ensure assistance was available should there be any issue. This was an example of the proactive actions they were taking.
He said that if a case was opened in a certain province but belonged to another, it would always be transferred back to the province where it belonged.
He also responded to the question regarding the failure or refusal to make payments, and what these payments were for. He said what had transpired was that those involved had been invited to have a meeting concerning the issues faced by bus liners. The bus-liners like Intercape were not prepared to pay for accommodation for themselves to attend meetings. This was an issue, because how could meetings occur to discuss the issues and come up with resolutions? This meant the police had to sit with these issues while they remained unsolved.
Lt Gen Patekile said engagements concerning conflict resolution were taking place and dealt with by the transport priority committee. The Head of the Department of Transport in the WC was also involved.
Mr De Freitas asked if it was correct to say that the SAPS was asking the bus liners to have representatives on each route who would then advise SAPs on incidents that occurred.
Maj Gen Mkhwanazi clarified that there was an agreement between SAPS and Intercape that a delegate from Intercape be sent to sit on the Provincial Joint Structure, but not at the various bus routes. This delegate would provide the SAPS with information concerning the operations of the buses in the relevant provinces so that SAPS could use the information to make proactive deployments to assist buses. As of now, this agreement was being implemented and if it was not being implemented, they would assess what the issues were, because this was an agreement that would assist greatly in addressing the situation.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy National Commissioner and her team for the comprehensive presentation on Intercape and all other incidents that had transpired. She was sure the Committee had all the responses they needed but if they had any further questions, they were welcome to write to the SAPS through the office of the Chair.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretariat to flight the minutes from the previous meeting.
The Committee Secretariat presented the draft minutes from the previous week's meeting with the Department of Transport. He said that looking at what the Department of Transport had said and what the SAPS had said today provided an idea of what was taking place and the plans being developed by these departments. This meant the Committee would be able to frame their recommendation properly to Parliament. He said it was unfortunate that they had not had the time to engage with the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO). He proposed that the Committee endorse these minutes if there were no issues.
Mr April moved for the adoption of the minutes without any amendments. Ms Maneli seconded the motion to adopt the minutes.
The Chairperson said that the minutes were adopted and asked for announcements.
The Committee Secretariat said he had been advised that the Department of Tourism and the WC Department of Tourism would be hosting a World Tourism Day next Tuesday. He had been notified that there was an invitation meant for the Committee that was on its way, and was waiting for the signature of the Minister. He had asked for clarity to be provided by the Department of Tourism to the Committee so that they were aware of what actions needed to be taken when the invitation arrived. He wanted to know if the Minister had signed the invitation and where it was now. He also noted that information on World Tourism Day was needed, because there was a plenary sitting at 14h00 on the same day.
Ms Zoe Adams, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Department of Tourism, said the invitation would arrive no later than 4 pm today. It was late due to the changes that needed to be made.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee required any clarity on the announcement that had been tabled.
Mr De Freitas asked if there was an invitation coming through, and did it mean that the Committee would attend the event and the Portfolio Committee meeting would not take place.
The Chairperson said they should wait for the invitation, and then the Committee would be advised.
Mr De Freitas also inquired if there were any updates on the international oversight visit.
The Chairperson said that if there was an update, it would have been tabled, and Mr De Freitas should not divert the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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