This comes after several armed robberies on buses travelling to Mitchells Plain earlier this year which left commuters and drivers traumatised.
On Wednesday passengers travelling from Town Centre to the City Centre received a welcome surprise when Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, and Golden Arrow officials went on a ride-along to see the officers in action.
Smith explains the group of 20 officers were appointed through the Expanded Public Works Programme in September to patrol buses along high-risk routes identified by Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS), and the project is being funded entirely by Golden Arrow.
Smith says: “Officers are mandated to conduct search and seizure operations on buses and at bus termini in the interest of commuter safety, and to enforce relevant by-laws.
“Officers have made six arrests for various offences, including possession of dangerous weapons, drugs and even a suspect who was caught illegally connecting electricity, as officers were passing by the Freedom Park informal settlement near Bishop Lavis.”
Among the items confiscated were a gas pistol, dagga, four knives and a pair of scissors, as well as a bottle of brandy.
“The minor who was caught consuming the alcohol was also removed from the bus. It’s only been a few weeks, and already the officers are making an impact - not only on the buses, but also in general enforcement, and assistance to the public,” adds Smith.
Ouma Sharifa Samaai, 61, who commuted for many years while working in a clothing factory in Salt River, says she is excited about the new unit.
“I was a supervisor for years and I see the new officers on the bus and I must say it is very nice. We feel so safe now. I am retired and don’t travel by bus every day but sometimes I do, like today, and it’s nice to see this.”
GABS spokesperson, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, says details of the routes covered by the officers are being kept a secret as the team do not want to alert skelms.
“We have just under 1200 buses operating during the peak so it’s a big operation. It is encouraging seeing the feedback from the passengers,” she says.
“In the beginning there was concern when the stop and searches started, but now they are saying they are grateful and are happy to be searched as they feel safer.”
She says there have been no reports of bus robberies in the past few weeks.
“We are keeping the deployment under wraps because the key to it is that nobody knows when it is happening, but everything is very strategic.”