14 June 2024 | 02:32 AM

Update: High Court skewers police over failure to investigate attacks on Intercape buses as ‘organised crime’

Key Takeaways

  • The Eastern Cape Division of the High Court has ruled that there has been a failure to properly investigate the ongoing attacks on Intercape busses.
  • These attacks, which are allegedly orchestrated by rogue taxi associations, need to be treated as instances of organised crime.

Long distance bus company Intercape has won a court order forcing police, including the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), to conduct a coordinated investigation into claims that rogue taxi associations in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng are orchestrating ongoing attacks on its vehicles in a bid to extort concessions from the company or shut it down.

The criminal acts include the murder of a driver, stonings, bullets being fired at busses and other acts of violence against Intercape’s vehicles, passengers and staff – as previously reported by amaBhungane in our detailed investigation from June 2022.

The court heard that at the time the application was launched, Intercape had lodged 165 criminal complaints in respect of acts of violence and intimidation. Despite this, not a single person was under arrest and no prosecutions were pending.

More disquieting, Intercape argued, was the fact that it was apparent that the Police had been trying to investigate and the NPA had been trying to prosecute Intercape’s complaints as individual stone-throwing cases and not as part of the campaign of organised crime levelled against Intercape by the taxi industry – something Intercape was at pains to make clear all along with reference to relevant statutory provisions and offences created in terms of those provisions.

In their response, all the police respondents had attempted to argue that they had capacity constraints and that, in any case, there was no evidence to prompt an organised crime investigation.

On 06 February, the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court emphatically disagreed, handing down an urgent judgment declaring that:

  • the police failed to investigate and prevent the crimes as required in terms of the Constitution;
  • the Provincial Commissioners involved failed to report the incidents to the DPCI as instances of organised crime as required in terms of the SAPS Act; and
  • the DPCI has failed to investigate the crimes as instances of national priority offences as required.

Acting judge Olav Ronaasen ordered that police and prosecutors do their job properly and report back to the court and to Intercape on their progress.

The police were directed to investigate each of the crimes and submit a report to the National Director of Public Prosecutions within 60 days to enable the NPA to coordinate the investigation and prosecution. They were ordered to submit a confidential copy of the report to the Court and to Intercape.

The Provincial Commissioners were directed to properly assess the crimes in respect of organised crime and to refer appropriate cases to the DPCI, as well as to submit a report of their assessment to the Investigating Directorate (ID) of the NPA, to the court and to Intercape within 30 days.

The DPCI was directed to investigate the cases reported to it to enable their effective prosecution as organised crime.

The DPCI also has to submit a report to the ID, to the court and to Intercape within 60 days detailing all steps taken and progress made in investigating the cases.

“Should Intercape consider… that the police, the Provincial Commissioners and/or the DPCI have failed to comply with any of their obligations under this order, Intercape shall be entitled…

to seek such further relief as may be necessary,” the judge ordered.

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