Residents defend MyCiTi buses

Residents gather close to the MyCiTi stop in Hangberg getting ready to protect the buses as they pick up commuters.

The MyCiTi bus services came under attack recently, being pelted with stones by a small group of people, allegedly from Hangberg.

After the sporadic attacks on the MyCiti buses ferrying commuters, the service was temporarily stopped in the Hangberg area, much to the dissatisfaction of locals relying on this service to get to work and back.

One of those locals, who only wanted to be known as Rowena, for fear of victimisation, said these acts were not carried out by Hangberg, but instead, “a small group of people who have their own ideas about how Hangberg must be run”.

Rowena is the only employed person in her household and uses the MyCiTi services to get to work each day. She supports three children at school, her unemployed husband, mother and uncle.

“I lose time when I can’t be at work on time or even get there. I was even in the bus one morning when this happened and you never see these individuals, but you just know who is behind this,” Rowena said.

“Same people that are behind all the destruction in this community, giving Hangberg a bad name.”

Roberto Quintas, the mayoral committee member for transport and Hout Bay’s ward councillor, said the bus services were forced to stop in the interest of the safety of passengers, drivers and the buses.

“The route entering Hangberg was suspended, at great inconvenience to commuters,” he said.

He emphasised, however, that the entire Hangberg could not be held responsible for the senseless attacks on the service.

“Hangberg has developed a reputation for being lawless, but this is not the truth. The wide majority of our residents are law abiding and simply want to see services running and a better life for all.

“The history of vandalism and stone throwing and violence, spurred on by a small minority with very narrow views and sceptical agendas, cannot be allowed to prevent this area from being a ’no go zone’ and unappetising for investors who can create jobs and economic opportunities,” Mr Quintas said.

But recently a few residents decided to stand up and protect the bus service which is used by many Hangberg residents.

“Some law abiding members of the community who wanted to ensure that the service ran for the benefit of the community, decided to unite and patrol around the route so that the service could run safely and for the benefit of all,” Mr Quintas said, confirming that the service was back up and running since the introduction of the residents’ patrols.

Peace and Mediation Forum secretary, Warren Abrahams, said locals immediately stepped up to help see the service returned to Hangberg.

“After the stoning of buses and the stop of it coming into Hangberg, the initiative was started by Hangberg residents to ensure the safety of MyCiTi buses and drivers,” Mr Abrahams said.

About 15 residents stationed themselves from 6pm in the evenings, known as the period when the stone throwing unfolds.

“The residents stationed themselves at areas known as hotspots where the buses was targeted,” he said.

They immediately saw a stop to the stone throwing after the first night they were out on patrols.

“The kids was aware the community is watching them and the buses and we haven’t had another incident since,” Mr Abrahams said.

The group of residents created community chat groups and encouraged interested person’s within Hangberg as well as commuters to be their “eyes and ears in every area”. They have since grown to 37 on the community group.

“We hope to keep this initiative up, but we are not always available to stand at the hotspots and it is still being done until our kids start realizing it is their parents, family or communities mode of transport to work,” Mr Abrahams said.

Warren Abrahams from the Peace and Mediation Forum getting ready to patrol the streets of Hangberg.