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Intercape bus service traps clients with religious cult on-board films

edited August 2010 in - Southern Africa
On the 12th of July 2010 I was booked on an Intercape bus from Cape Town to Johannesburg in South Africa. Ref no: B2Q30HV5

When the on board film started it became very clear that the message emanating from the film was one of fundamentalist Christianity; to the point where the message declared that you would go to hell and burn if you did not yield to the Christian doctrine The message took on the fundamentalist hysteria when members in the films audience were displaying a typical-cult psychosis, precipitated by uncontrollable weeping that stems from severe, unhealthy indoctrination.

I called one of the Intercape assistants and objected to the film because I am an atheist and there were Muslims on board. She laughed and said they would not! I was utterly shocked at her response. I then approached the bus driver and to my horror his reaction was the same, declaring to his staff (who were standing around him), with laughter and a mocking tone, "He wants me to change it?" and continuing to laugh. I told them that I would pursue my complaint beyond the scope of Intercape.

The tape went on for about 3 hours.

The following morning at 08h00 the tape was replayed. When I again lodged a complaint, the assistant again let out a laugh and said that it was company policy to play only this tape. I told her I viewed their forced indoctrination as a form of kidnapping because we have no recourse: we can't climb off the bus; we can't object; they have broken a law by not allowing freedom of religion, but instead have trapped their clients through deceit. Nowhere on their web page does it say that the company only plays fundamentalist christian films, giving the individual a choice to use the carrier or not. She simply smiled at me and walked away, chuckling under her breath.

I have also lodged a complaint with consumer watch, the press, both local and international and sent a private email to Professor Pierre de Vos, Constitutional Law consultant, to ascertain the course of Legal Action that I should take against Intercape and their employees.

Kind regards

Richard Cunning
P.O. Box 3603
+27 72 011 4719

PS: See below, reply from South Africa's Official Opposition Party, the Democratic Alliance:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Angus Mackenzie
Date: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: RE: Trapped by Intercape's Religious Cult Indoctrination
To: Richard Cunning

Dear Mr Cunning,

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) I would like to thank you for the email that you sent.

The DA is aware of this issue. We received complaints from foreigners travelling during the World Cup. I will alert the DA Shadow Minister for communications of this continuing situation.

Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the DA.

Yours sincerely,

Angus Mackenzie
Public Liaison Officer
Democratic Alliance Leader’s Office
Parliament of South Africa
Tel: 021 403 2802


  • edited 5:47AM
    What a painful experience. Please keep us updated of developments.

    Was the tape played very loudly, was it hard to ignore? I wonder how hard it would be to simply to read a book or listen to an iPod as a way of avoiding the offensive message. I do see your principle though, and agree the service should be more transparent about their full offering.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I travel only Intercape for this specific reason. Congratulations on an Excellent Bus service.
  • edited 5:47AM
    My family and I have recently traveled from Johannesburg to Cape Town and were very pleasantly surprised to find a company which is bold in their outlook and unashamed about their spiritual beliefs. The message that came across from the movie and the personnel on the bus should be enough to give a "free thinker" latitude enough to think for themselves. However in response to the complaint we would like to know what would have been more appropriate to show which would not have offended somebody at some stage of the different age groups races and cultures, and, since when did religious freedom only cater to protect the interests of the people which do not believe in an awesome, great, loving creator of the world in which they find themselves not believing. Why should Christians be the only ones to not have the FREEDOM to express their faith in whatever form. Next time take ear muff's so you can close your eyes to the truth. I don't see why they would have to advertise that they might show a Christian film then I would like them to say as well when they are going to show a film which might not be Christian. The Gospel is for everyone be glad that they don't discriminate.
    Unashamed Child of God and Family.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I do not believe that a company offering a service like this has any right whatsoever to preach to anyone. They should open a church rather, and realise that, while they are entitled to believe whatever they want to believe, not everyone agrees with them, and a business environment is the wrong place to force their views, especially when they have paying customers, and those customers, once in transit, cannot simply get off the bus. I was going to book tickets for my daughters to travel from Cape Town, but after reading this, I will be dealing with another, secular, company.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I took an Intercape bus a few years ago, but all I had to endure was a wobbly vhs copy of Escape From L.A.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I am very disappointed with the act of your employees as they took my brother's baggage and placed it right at the end of the curban,so as he arrived to his dastination,the crew refused to give his buggage,they said its very far and they are rushing to Maputo so they will come back with the buggage the following day. This totally unacceptable for the passangers. Bus from Jhb to Maputo, pass by Nelspruit
  • edited 5:47AM
    It is unfortunate that the company is not more straightforward about this aspect of their service. A quick look through their website reveals that nowhere do they state clearly that they force passengers to watch religious programming, however if you look at their company info (and how many passengers actually do this) the religious affiliation becomes more obvious:
  • edited 5:47AM
    This holly rolling crap is something of an epidemic in the Western Cape, but I'm thankfully I'm immune.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I too took intercape bus several times from JHB to Cape Town. I was subject to that same BS Video. To answer a few of the above questions. YES it was LOUD!! HOLY [email protected]#$%^ LOUD! I was on the second deck both times and the brainwashing was about 3 hours long. I had no idea as a foreigner (Canadian) that this brainwashing would be FORCED down my throat. What a fricken joke. That is the one thing I've noticed about Africa; the religion scams and brainwashing are about 4-6 years behind the U.S. and Canada. The scams and brainwashing and evangelical preaching etc etc, are full swing here. It's almost as if organized religion has found a group of people they can PREY on. Religious organizations for the MOST PART feel that Africans are less informed, less educated and therefore are EXACTLY the crowd they need to collect money from poor and brainwash the ignorant. Sad really. If you're one of the people that buy into it, I would assume you will taunt me or call me evil, but really, you're the exact person that I am talking about and your brainwashing has already been well underway. Intercape has a GREAT bus service, but the religion crap is way over the top.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I am disappointed by the conduct /service offered by Intercape. Last night 26/05/2011 Intercape Bus leaving Durban at 21:00, bus attendants argued to take my laggage packed in a small to mediums size box stating that the charge for the boxes but not for the bags and suitcases. I had only R40 which I offered to pay but they refused to take it wanted more money mentioned R200 or at least R100. Meanwhile at the check in point the lady that checked me in when I said I have a box and the bus attendant said I have to pay for it, she said she does not deal with that, I must talk to the bus attendants. I offerred then that the laggage can be paid for when I reach my destination in Pretoria as I would arrange someone to bring me money, that was also a problem and they said my laggage should remain in Durban. This arguement took almost about 20 minutes but finally the box was loaded in the bus. On my destination in Pretoria bus attendants refused to off load my box demanded a pay, eventually they took the R40 that I had and the small ticket with a reference for my box but still could not release the box, they wanted more money. They kept on saying if we weigh the box you will probably be charged R300 but when I agreed that the box must be weighed they failed to do so. They wanted to leave with my box in the bus and told me to go the office to ask for my box when I have money, while they were not leaving the box in the office, and they took my reference tickect. I would have no evidence to claim the box. I was so intimidated in the process and I thought how many other passengers really go through this horror. My box wasn't big and it was not heavy and that was so evident hence they failed to weigh it but kept on threatening that it would cost more if they weight it. The person that I was expecting to bring me money was on his way, finally he came while we were still arguing and paid the total of R100 for the Box. The receipt was not issued. Receipts have to be issued when running a business as confirmation of payment for a service, and trust to the customer (me) that I pay what I am suppose to be paying for in a genuine note. [email protected]
  • edited 5:47AM
    I travelled Intercape in 2010, and was surprised about a group prayer and badly made Christian films and evangelical messages screened on board. Otherwise, the journey was fine, and it was well run. I felt even better when the bus driver refused to let on a drunken and rude passenger. It didn't bug me too much, but sure, Intercape really does need to put its beliefs, and intentions to screen that overtly Christian material, more up front - on its website and have a Christian poster or two in its offices, so people know what they are in for and can choose whether to travel with them. Saying that, I'd travel with them again because it is such a well run service.
  • edited 5:47AM
    Well done Inter cape for spreading the Gospel through your bus service!!! Woohoo!!!
  • edited 5:47AM
    Yea, spreading the truth is a nice feature. But how can I know, that something is the truth? Is a SA bus company actually the only and unique depositor of the truth? Intercapes religious services are not christian, they are (maybe) protestant. Much of it is in contradiction to catholic faith and the teachings of subsequent popes. So who is right? Intercape or the Pope?
    And to Mr or Mrs Anashamed: How would you react, if you went to the butcher to buy meat and then would be told, that you can get meat only together with the latest edition of the Koran? This is what happens to passengers of Intercape - they buy a ticket for a bus ride, not one for attending religious service. It's not about truth or religion, it's about disappointing costumers' expectations. By the way, they now state on their tickets, "christian materials are used on board", which seem to indicate, that they got the point.
  • edited 5:47AM
    24 hours across SOuth Africa to Namibia and subjected to such movies which is bad enough. But they are BAD movies - turgid, dull, from somewhere in the midwest. No Christians apparently in India or Oxford or Sydney. Just grim heavy handed US version of Christianity.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I am offended by them forcing their protestant teaching on the passengers! We pay a sh#* load of money! They should offer better services! They are not an airline so they should get that out of their mind! Where have you heard a max weight for luggage at 20 kg!
  • edited 5:47AM
    Because of the christian teachings forced on passengers of Intercape, as described in the above comments, I have cancelled my plan to use their coach service to travel Johannesburg/Knysna return. Unfortunately I will not be able to experience their comfortable new seating. I choose to rather experience the lesser seating comfort of another coach company and enjoy freedom from forced christian fundamentalist propaganda. That will be a much more comfortable experience!
  • edited 5:47AM
    Thank you Intercape for excellent service. My husband and I , Ivan and Hettie de Kock were traveling from Vanderbijlpark to George and back, on the 23 and 28 December 2011. Thank you for the group prayer, your friendliness and all your help! It is much appreciated!
    May your company continue spreading the word of God!
  • edited 5:47AM
    Please please please Intercape - if you really are that proud of your believes then don't hide it from your clients... Just put a friggen cross on the logo or something so that we know before paying a small fortune for something that we really don't care much for. That's fair, isn't it? WWJD?
  • edited 5:47AM
    Religion should be a private matter and the greatest form of selfishness is ramming your beliefs down other people's throats. Governments and businesses should stay out of religion (see all the states who base their government on religion and see what terribly repressive places they are to live).

    I was just about to buy a ticket online and it says in their terms and conditions (note Christian material used on board). I don't think this should give them licence to do what they like. If you were born in mid-west America, you are probably Christian, if you are born in Iran, you are probably muslim, if Northern Europe, you are probably secular etc. What this means is religion is no universal truth, but is cultural and therefore an OPINION. How arrogant to believe that your religion is the truth - no argument. I do not want people's trying to indoctrinate me with their personal opinions and beliefs. Especially a commercial bus Company. Why not switch the TV off and allow people to sleep and enjoy the ride in comfort.

    Can anyone recommend another Company that goes Cape Town to Windhoek rather than Intercape?
  • edited 5:47AM
    Intercape dont listen to people who are so used to complaining all the time. I have boarded your bus on a 12 hour journey and am so impressed with your service. I believe you are the only company still offering a five star service. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. You have very humble polite drivers and assistants
  • edited 5:47AM
    Inter-Cape should not play these dvd's/ tapes as passengers want to relax and enjoy trheir journey.

    I drive a coach in IRL and as a professional coach-/ bus driver that will be VERY un-professional thing to do !
  • edited 5:47AM
    I have recently been caught in the same trap. 22 hours of fanatical fundamentalist Christian indoctrination. I guess I should have read the fine print, but that’s underhanded marketing for you. The information is always in the fine print. Like in those contracts you wished you’d never signed. If they are SO proud of spreading the “truth” then they should make it clear on their website instead of hiding it as the last point after scrolling down on their “How it all started” page or the very last comment on the “Mission Statement” page. It is false advertising when the service is reported as “Audio Visual Entertainment” instead of “Fundamentalist Christian TV” on the “Services” page. They catch the unsuspecting “non-believers” on their busses for 22 hours in the foolish hope that forcing this indoctrination down their throats will show them the way, the truth and the light! They show a complete and utter disregard for the religious beliefs of others and this kind of prejudice makes me angry. What is a Jewish or Catholic mother supposed to tell her five year old when asked what the ‘end of days’ means? “Mommy are we all going to die? Am I going to go to hell? Are all my friends going to be taken away in the rapture? What is the rapture? ”. It was utterly shocking and the fact that no headphones where provided so that everyone is forced to listen to it is what makes it just that much more intolerable for me. Their marketing strategy is underhanded and I will never put myself through that again! On top of everything the bus was 2 hours late and the staff was rude, from the call center to the hostess and bus drivers. We were rushed at every stop to make up the time that they lost because they were late in the first place. I reached my destination 4 hours AFTER the time stated on my ticket in a very very foul mood.
  • edited 5:47AM
    This is so rude. Having a contract like this should be in catchy style. Specially if it is also a reason to be caught.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I have never used Intercape but i appreciate their services because all my relatives love to travel in those coaches,As for those who think they impose christianity,i think you have to go to some butcheries in Cape Town where you are told that they only sell halaal meat,i once bought a halaal pie without knowing and i wasnt told,i was so sick about that,if you feel offended with the good news then stop using it but don't discourage others to hear the gospel of truth.Its up to them to tell you or not otherwise do your own home work before you just book yourself a ticket thats being ignorant,Intercape we love you ad us christians we support you and we will always use your comfortable & Coaches.
  • edited 5:47AM
    hi 5 to intercape,we need not mind those who want to indulge themselves in porn.gospel truth is the way to go
  • edited 5:47AM
    I have never use Intercape Bus before and the the is coming late than the actual time they indicated on the Bus Ticket, current time 18:50pm now. The Departure Port Elizabeth 18:30pm - Arrival Cape Town 05:50am when will I arrive home? The driver will want to speed up the bus to make the time and there is lot of possibilities of accident when travelling in a rush. This is my worse nightmare of travelling with Intercape Bus shame. I don't think I can advice my family and friends to use this Company as a traveller.
  • edited 5:47AM
    What do you expect, this is the owner's vision for Intercape:
    To spread the message of hope, repentance and restoration across the land and beyond, to give a perishing people in despair the good news of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him.
  • edited 5:47AM
    I was very grateful for Intercape. The buses were, on the whole, reasonably on-time; they were clean and well managed; and they were safe - there were a number of women travelling on their own who clearly felt comfortable. When one bus broke down, there were repeated messages sent to my mobile phone to update me on progress and when the bus would arrive. Because that bus was quite late (one had broken down, and they'd had to bring in a replacement) they brought meals on board at for an early dinner and then arranged for a restaurant along the way to stay open late so that we could get food later on as well. I found the staff largely very helpful and careful of the passengers (though in some smaller cities, the people who run their ticket office aren't actually Intercape staff, so can't help with some aspects) and they managed a series of difficult transactions involving the redirection of funds from a double-booked ticket really well. As for the films, I was glad of them, even if they weren't really from my tradition and might not have been great if you had small children with you. Having sat through lots of films on coaches in other parts of the world (most of which would definitely not have been great if you had small children with you), though, it seems to me that no one will be happy all the time. And on my coaches at least, the films weren't very loud (indeed, much of the time the sound didn't work at all).
  • edited 5:47AM
    I had my honey moon in Cape Town in April 2012. On return i used Intercape. It was such a great trip, the service was owesome. I am glad they have opened a local route in ZAMBIA. Next time i am on a trip, please count me in.
  • edited 5:47AM
    It may interest the religious idiot-adults, (described by Christophe Hitchens as the childhood of our species), to know that there is insufficient evidence to prove that Jesus Christ even existed at all: it was all written after the fact in fanciful-nonsense contradictions. Even more to the point: In their search for the evidence that god gave the land to Israel, Finkelstein and Silberman’s verdict (Book: The Bible Unearthed) is unambiguous: the Pentateuch, also known as the Torah is a complete work of fiction. So is most of the Old Testament borrowed from other sources in the Mediterranean and so is most of the New Testament borrowed from popular myths surrounding a virgin birth, a son of god, died, rose again, ascended into heaven: the concept is hardly new; look it up yourself and stop being so gullible! The Bible is simply not a reliable historical record; which also means that the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Islam, which all have their roots in Abraham, are false. So why would anyone follow a religion when it is all false? Quite simple really: indoctrination; an inability to think for yourself. If the Bible is your only source of information beware, the robins (yes, John Keats’s pretty little birds) will come and bury you under the leaves. Try and expand your mind instead of being hammerlocked in religion. Get yourself free and read: Professor Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion; The Selfish Gene; The Magic of Reality; The Blind Watchmaker; The Greatest Show on Earth). Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great - Religion Poisons Everything; Missionary Position). Dr Richard Carrier (Sense and Goodness without god). Professor Thomas Thompson (The Messiah Myth; Is this the Carpenters Son; The Historicity of Patriarchal Narrative). Sam Harris - Neuroscientists (The End of Faith; The Moral Landscape; Letter to a Christian Nation). Marilyn vos Savant (World’s Highest IQ: see interview with Harold Channer) and dozens more. With all the evidence available, if anyone still clings to a religious belief, you’re living in the Bronze Age.
  • edited 5:47AM
    Big up to intercape..For spreading the gospel of Jesus christ the son of God .The God who created even those idiots who do not want to hear God z word. Its simple , U do not like the movies put on your earphones or earplugs . vee
  • edited 5:47AM
    I always use intercape for my travel and THANK U SOOO MUCH for spreading the Gospel.when you book your ticket online they do tell you that they only play Christian movies so i suggest that people do research before booking any bus to find out more about the company. i personally wont complain if i use a Muslim bus and they are playing their Muslim i suggest the others do the same or find a bus that will play something they also relate to.
  • Today science has explained so much of the word we live in its time to leave our superstions behind and evolve as a species. There is no gods, no heaven or hell, devils or demons. Just you and me on this beautiful planet, So why dont we take care of it and each other until we eventualy die. If you dont your life will truely have no meaning. If you still want to believe your Christian blind faith so be it, but dont force it on somebody else.
  • I was just about to buy a ticket online and I came across note: christian material used on board so i had to google this and i came across this complaint. I think this is so unfair forcing people to convert and telling them they are going to hell? they should respect other religion and play movies or nothing at all. Being laughed at for not wanting to convert? I hope this is not still going on.
  • Dear Promethean, we as Christians can only say "your disbelief does NOT change the truth" You were quick to comment of freedom to express religious beliefs, well guess what, that is exactly what Intercape was doing. I will continue to support a company who stand for something and doesn't fall for everything! Welldone Intercape, you will be blessed.
  • Sam0 its a Christian organisation so if it upsets you, you have other services to chose from and Christianity is not a Religion, its a Spiritual choice.
  • I would love to be there when all these nay sayers are indeed faced with the Creator of heaven and earth someday, when they actually stand infront of him, using excuses like "Professor Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion; The Selfish Gene; The Magic of Reality; The Blind Watchmaker; The Greatest Show on Earth). Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great - Religion Poisons Everything; Missionary Position). Dr Richard Carrier (Sense and Goodness without god). Professor Thomas Thompson (The Messiah Myth; Is this the Carpenters Son; The Historicity of Patriarchal Narrative). Sam Harris - Neuroscientists (The End of Faith; The Moral Landscape; Letter to a Christian Nation). Marilyn vos Savant (Worlds Highest IQ: see interview with Harold Channer) and dozens more. I wanna be in the front row to hear what they will say, how they will beg and blame others for their niaivity. Its gonna be a splendid day! Fact is Science cannot explain where the earth comes from and you all need to know "evidence has been found to confirm, the Bible, the Ark, the 10 commandments, Jesus himself and many other biblical facts.
  • Wow, these are a lot of strong opinions - in both directions - about Intercape's choice of Christian programming. I came here in search of information on luggage weight allowances, but feel I must comment on this topic. While it's rather high-handed of them to force the management's beliefs on the general public, I respect Intercape's right to play whatever movies they choose during bus journeys. I, personally, will be listening to Richard Dawkins on my iPad, but more power to Intercape for spreading the gospel to the heathen masses. They are doing what they honestly believe is best for society, and they make no secret of this practice (these days; maybe not when this thread was started), so anyone who goes ahead and buys a ticket should be prepared to deal with the Christian propaganda.

    It should be noted that Intercape's endeavor to "save" the sinful masses is largely pointless. An individual is unlikely to change his/her belief system because they hear a differing message during a bus ride (even a 28 hour one!). In my case, if I can come through 8 years of Christian school, followed by 2 years of Christian boarding academy + Christian summer camp, Christian youth group, Vacation Bible School, and several years as a missionary and STILL think the Bible makes absolutely no logical sense, I doubt anything Intercape throws at me will be able to change my mind. But if the passenger sitting next to me listens to the message, embraces Christianity, and lives the rest of his/her life with a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and a love for their fellow human beings (not to mention the security of knowing that they aren't headed to Hell), then I am nothing but happy for that person. Before I learned to think for myself and decided that god does not exist, practicing Christianity brought joy and peace to my heart. I wish everyone could experience the serenity I enjoyed as a child with blind faith ... just don't allow Jesus's love to develop into hatred for those who don't share your spiritual beliefs.    
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