The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court imposed the harshest sentence possible on Thursday, when convicted cable thief Fortune Nkomo was handed a 15-year jail term for stealing train cables worth R250 000.
Mayco member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Heron, called the sentencing a victory for rail commuters who continuously experience delays due to vandalism and theft of train cables.
“It is the first time that we have seen the Criminal Matters Amendment Act applied with success in the Western Cape, and I want to commend Metrorail, the South African Police Service, the prosecutors, and all other partners for their hard work,” said Heron.
This is a landmark case in the Western Cape, as it is the first time a criminal was successfully prosecuted and convicted under the Criminal Matters Amendment Act. The act has been in place for two years and serves as a deterrent against destruction and attacks on essential infrastructure. If successfully prosecuted, criminals could face up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
“As we welcome the conviction and the subsequent 15-year prison sentence imposed on a cable thief, I am also saddened and horrified by the recent attack on a bus driver employed by the Golden Arrow Bus Service . The bus driver was shot six times just before entering the bus depot in Philippi at approximately 7.30 on 7 June 2018,” said Heron.
He is currently fighting for his life.
A recent agreement was reached with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the Western Cape Provincial Government, to train and jointly fund a dedicated enforcement unit to focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure.
The unit is expected to be fully functional in the next two months.
Heron said safety is of greatest importance and the recent damage and destruction caused by attacks on transport infrastructure deserves to face prosecution and conviction, if there is hope of saving the transport systems.
“Our public transport services are sabotaged and undermined on a regular basis. The safety of our commuters and personnel is compromised, our assets are stolen and damaged and must be replaced and repaired at great cost.
“I am urging anyone with information that will assist us to protect commuters and our public transport assets to please contact their nearest police station. The public can also report vandalism and other important information to the City’s Transport Information Centre on 0800 65 64 63.”