There is an old saying: “a fish stinks from its head.”
I approach you as the problem I am presenting here, affects the economic viability of Cape Town and the Western Cape, just as it impacts negatively upon tourism. I also approach you as I am exasperated by the attitudes experienced from the City of Cape Town, in particular by Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille and Alderman Brett Herron. I am not even willing to discuss this with them as their handling of these and related issues in the past had led to em contacting the parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport as well as the former Transport Minister Dipuo Peters directly. I have received excellent assistance from Min Peters and I honour her for coming to the aid of people at street level.
I also place on record an uncalled-for arrogant attitude from Premier Helen Zille and I will explain this further down this communication. Sufficient to say that, after her unsolicited arrogance in abusing disabled people, I have no respect left for her and I have asked her to lead by example in showing President Zuma how to resign. Like a good African political leader, she clings to her position even after the voters clearly showed that she had overstayed her welcome. We will re-visit this issue later, as stated. Her being partisan and using disabled people to manipulate votes was in particularly bad taste.
With the help of Min Dipuo Peters and a senior official at Department of Transport , called Allison, we tackled many problems related to MyCiti BRT as, at local government level, a lack of clearly defined leadership was as evident then as it is evident now. My wife and I did bring about several changes in the system and I assisted a lot, worked without being paid and finally stopped doing it as, in my poverty as a disabled person myself, bad health caused by said poverty caused me to rid myself of a terrible burden. I was working for free while government pays millions to outsourced consultants; my own health was suffering badly and I wasn’t prepared to let my own health further deteriorate. At the time, my very obvious diabetes remained undiagnosed and therefore untreated, causing all manner of related complications.
All the while, I had to deal with Brett Herron, who remained elusive, unapproachable, never responded to emails and caused me to become so frustrated, as with Patricia De Lille and Helen Zille, that I finally made a very difficult decision and went to see Mr Tony Ehrenreich of Cosatu. If the supposed good guys lacked in integrity and acumen, what other options were open to me?
An unrelated unprotected strike followed about two months later and then I suddenly had a call from Brett Herron – who ran out of a Council Meeting to call me, creating the impression that he must have thought that I had something to do with the strike! That would be an absolutely ludicrous assumption as I certainly had absolutely nothing to do with that. When I met with Mr Ehrenreich, my request to him was to take up the issue with Patricia De Lille and Brett Herron. All of a sudden, Brett Herron knew where to find me.
Just a few MyCity case studies:
ATTEMPTED ARREST AT THIBAULT SQUARE STATION
I boarded the MyCiti bus at Stadium Station and proceeded to Thibault. Upon my departure, my MyConnect card still worked perfectly but failed inexplicably along the way. Upon arrival at Thibault Station, security staff attempted to ARREST me. I broke free and met up with my wife who was waiting there for me. In pain (I live with disability) we made our way on foot to Civic Centre where were seen by a senior official on the 14th floor. Said gent sent me an email later, in thick red capitals, saying that I should “accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and stop worrying about nonsense.”
FINES IMPOSED BY ERRATIC VALIDATORS
Upon so many occasions, my wife and I were fined when dates on validators on buses and especially at Stadium- and Thibault Stations were set incorrectly. This is where Brett Herron, as an lawyer and officer of the Court, made a rather stupid mistake in lying to me in writing. He stated that the fines imposed upon my wife and I were being treated differently and first had to be investigated before refunds could be made, a process riddled with administrative hurdles. He stated that other passengers were refunded immediately – which was yet another lie. This is why I have absolutely no respect for him. Furthermore, I have suggested so many times to him that he should, like Manne Dipico did, roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty until problems are solved. He chose to delegate and then issue carefully worded statements to blame others, excusing himself and his administration from any misconduct, leaving end users to deal with three sub-contractors. Even Professor Joan Hambidge, in a letter in the media, hinted at the City of Cape Town as The Forwarding Department. (“We have forwarded your complaint to anonymous” who will die on duty and File 13.)
On July 4 or 5, 2014, we were left in pouring rain, the worst storm during that season, at the V&A Waterfront because we were fined and could not travel – on the eve of our wedding anniversary. I became very ill as a result and only recovered by early September that year.
REFUSAL OF SERVICE
The conduct of MyCiti is despicable and, as you can imagine, damaging to tourism as we still regularly see tourists rejected and told to walk! Between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, between Derde Steen and Blouberg…..recently between London Rd and Queen’s Beach, elderly tourists were made to walk….as were others from across Tafelbergskool to Adderley!! Or the various white tourists down Orange- or Loop Streets who were refused access while they had flights to catch, only to see how black people were allowed to travel to Civic Centre to load mover points! Open discrimination!
OVERLOADING OF BUSES
So many times, especially over weekends, residents of Green Point, Sea Point, Bantry Bay and also De Waterkant had NO bus service as the 114 service was taken away for very long over weekends. Buses coming from Hangberg or ImizamoYethu were laden to the hilt, often with passengers even sitting on the dashboard, squeezing in between validators to do so. This happens to this day, despite the 114 buses having been reinstated after much lobbying.
Buses coming from Atlantis, Du Noon or TableView are often so overladen that passengers cannot disembark in time at their appropriate stations. This is a service that was subsidised R22,50 per seat in 2015 – according to a MyCiti official – who blamed me for the cost, also accuse me for “turning this into a political issue.” It is not my fault that they run at such heavy subsidies yet still operate vehicles that were falling apart even when new, or rusting away around door mechanisms, or not suitably ventilated in our hot climate. (Metrorail, by comparison, gets subsidised twenty CENTS per passenger, still run reasonably well despite disinvestment by government and lack of protection from security forces. They only became overladen after the PUBLIC destroyed more than 101 carriages.)
- Door mechanisms literally falling off.
- “Black boxes” failing, frustrating passengers. One driver forced the vehicle from High Level Road near Braemar Rd all the way to the last stop before turning right towards Queen’s Beach – where it finally died and blocked all vehicular traffic during rush hour!
- Drivers communicating ONLY in isiXhosa with passengers, not informing others whether they should disembark and walk or wait for a replacement bus.
- One bus on the 261 route took about two hours from Adderley to reach Salt River bridge. Overladen, without proper ventilation.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DEAF PASSENGERS – CASE STUDIES
30 or 31 October, Waterfront Bus Stop, approximately 15:00
Two tourists from the UK, both hard of hearing, wanted to buy new MyConnect cards. As they could not find their way there from the other side of the V&A Waterfront, I took them there. Because of their margin of deafness, the already tedious process of buying NEW MyConnect cards took longer than usual and passengers queuing for service became rude and insulting, telling the “old white people to hurry up, we have buses to catch.”
Friday, October 27, 2017 at approximately 19:30 – Adderley Street Station. We were four travellers returning from Simon’s Town via Metrorail and we had a very pleasant return journey.
The cashier was playing on his smartphone and not attending to passengers who wanted to transact. My own wife’s orders were carried out incorrectly; she has some difficulty hearing and had to be satisfied with the divided attention from the cashier who randomly attended to some seemingly pressing issue on his smartphone.
Our fellow traveller, a (retired yet called back into service) Police Inspector from the UK, tried to load mover points and he is hard of hearing, as is his wife. The cashier still paid more attention to his smartphone and the visiting policeman had a hard time hearing, as thick glass separates him from the cashier, with NO intercom service! How do MyCiti officials think we can hear a man sitting in an insulated armoured glass box? The transaction to load mover points for him and his wife took very long. Two black men then came, surrounded him from both sides and grabbed him; he thought he was going to be killed! His wife also was in shock, fearing for their lives! The black men then said “the old white man spent too much time, we want to be served now.”
Meanwhile, I called upon security, who was nowhere to be seen and presumably at the north end of the bust station. There were no other MyCiti officials in sight! When the security guard finally arrived, he was agitated and I thought that he was going to physically assault me. I need to state clearly that this has to be a RACE issue as he was in no way treated with disrespect, or intentionally offended. He was angry because of his EGO – he was, in his own words, “too busy with something else to come and help.”
Friday, November 3 2017 around 11AM, Adderley Street Station
I went to load Mover Points but found that my MyConnect card, that was still used the previous evening and in credit, simply wasn’t recognised by the validators. The cashier on the Heerengracht end of the station spoke to me through the thick glass but I couldn’t hear a word. Passengers behind me became agitated and wanted me out of the way, so I told them that I am hard of hearing. He said I had to walk to Civic Centre (I have limited mobility!) My wife and I had an appointment elsewhere and could not fit in a walk to Civic Centre. A few minutes later, my wife arrived and I informed her of the problem. She had a hard time negotiating a solution with the cashier on the Absa Bank side of the Adderley bus station. People got annoyed when I called 0800 65 64 63 as I talk loudly, being deaf to some extent myself.
INJURIES ON MYCITY
- My wife sustained seemingly permanent injury to her foot when the MyCiti bus braked suddenly while it was speeding downhill from Llandudno towards Oudekraal.
- My back was injured when a passenger bumped very hard into me from behind, hitting me at the exact spot where I had undergone surgery.
- My neck was injured on October 16, 2016 when a bus driver closed the large doors of one of the biggest buses on me and I had seen my doctor fairly recently; I still take pain tablets daily. Lawyers refuse to take my case because I am indigent but I have not lost hope; their shall rise one with a heart to defend my cause against MyCiti. I need to be compensated for pain and suffering as, many nights, I can hardly sleep.
Do you really want tourists to travel on MyCiti bus, then? Think again! This letter is going to my blog to warn them off! It is about time that someone with a spine (even a damaged one) makes a real stand against these atrocities. 2019 is round the corner, my vote is undecided but I know who NOT to vote for!
The MyCity bus service was touted as a wonderful system when public opinion was invited. It was said that it would be easy to load credit or buy MyConnect bus passes. We have now had eight years proving the opposite, with a leadership blaming others and not accepting responsibility or being accountable. A leadership spending much effort in issuing carefully worded statements to make themselves look good and make all else look bad.
Tremendous damage is done to tourism and it really is time that real action is taken to control the damage done to the industry, as hotel owners, guest houses and other stakeholders suffer, it will of necessity impact upon job creation, etc.
NOW TO HELEN ZILLE
For many months, the Golden Acre’s escalators leading towards the Cape Town Station were out of order and repeated many times, yet Metrorail (who operates on adjacent premises) received the blame. We complained at Metrorail Infomation Desks but was referred back to Golden Acre. With no responses forthcoming, I then contacted Patricia de Lille, who never responded. I also contacted Ms Erika Du Toit of WCAPD who invited myself and Brett Herron along. I did not have access to transport and couldn’t attend. Brett Herron found the station to be accessible, in his opinion. But there was a problem! City of Cape Town blocked of the ramp access leading from Strand Street Concourse, thereby (unthinkingly) blocking off disabled access. As the escalators were also not in working condition, disabled people were now forced to first cross Adderley Street, then down St George’s Mall and back to Adderley Street, also risking dangerous traffic conditions to access Cape Town Station or other businesses in that precinct. I did not expect from Brett Herron to really understand what the problem was.
In desperation, I contacted Helen Zille via Twitter and my tone was submissive and very polite. She immediately reacted by making me look stupid, ridiculed me, called me clueless…..asking if I didn’t know that it was a Metrorail problem! My reasonable expectation was that she would use her influence to find a solution, instead she and some Twitter friends chose to be arrogant cyber bullies. When I presented her with a letter from Golden Acre management that the Strand Street Concourse construction work was a CITY OF CAPE TOWN project, she went silent and point blank refused to apologise. She also said that “disabled people should vote for my party in 2019, then we might look into the matter.”
Such ludicrous arrogance is lewd, being a cyber bully is lewd. As she refused to apologise, i promised her that she may be autographing her book in which she praised herself, but that I would be writing the final chapter on her behalf. Just to lend some actual truth to who she really is.
HOW I FOUND A SOLUTION TO GOLDEN ACRE – STRAND STREET CONCOURSE PROBLEM
At just past 8pm on a Saturday night, I traced the cell phone number of former Minister Dipuo Peters, the then Minister of Transport. She responded by saying “leave this to me.” Within minutes, I received a call from a gentleman called Mthura Swartz, a senior manager at Prasa, very humble, polite and not even telling me that he was the former CEO of Metrorail Western Cape! (I would find that out almost a year later, from an unrelated student!) Mr Swartz took the matter in hand and by that Thursday, the first escalator was running!
While there is a rather obvious lack of clearly defined leadership in the offices of Brett Herron, Patricia De Lille and Helen Zille, the problems continue, racist attitudes marr the service delivery by MyCity “rapid ” bus service, discrimination against passengers with disabilities is rife and this contingent of society really is marginalised by sometimes lewd, arrogant leaders who, in my opinion, should resign from office, as we deserve better. When I confronted Helen Zille, her immediate reaction was to go for the jugular of Jacob Zuma, demanding his resignation! Her arrogance, delusions, lack of leadership with integrity, is a guarantee that disabled people will remain discriminated against as long as she and the others mentioned are still in office. I really think that the disabled people of South Africa should take Helen Zille’s mention of the 2019 elections seriously – and vote for a party that really takes care of them, and not try exploiting them unfairly for votes. Her comment was in rather bad taste and her ability as a true leader clearly is in deficit.
I trust that a sober look, a passionate plea for effective, positive administrative and political change won’t fall on deaf ears. I also plead that MyCiti’s management be taken away from the City of Cape Town and handed to National Government, or to see Golden Arrow’s traditional, efficient services restored – they never displaced poor people, evicted them, etc. Golden Arrow Bus Service has always been the friend of Capetonians – we want our friends to convey us from A2B. Perhaps the public should rise up and petition against the disrespectful, oppressive leadership and and inefficient administration.
Enough surely is enough!