Video footage from Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) official and information from a commuter led to the arrest and sentencing of a Cape Town man. Ricardo Khan who is accused of setting alight a train at the Eersterivier Station in 2020 was sentenced to 20 years at the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court.
It is alleged Khan who works at the Eersterivier taxi rank burned the train to put it out of service so he could make more money in the taxis, an action that caused damage worth R3.5 million.
Regional Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Eric Ntabazalila said that it became clear during the trial that the taxi industry stands to benefit the most whenever trains became non-operational.
He added that the suspect was arrested after a video clip of the incident taken by a Prasa official was discovered. The video was closely investigated and the suspect was identified as the same person a commuter had pointed out to a law enforcement official.
“A Prasa official made a video of the incident and later that video was closely examined, a suspect was identified and it was the same person earlier pointed out to the law enforcement by a commuter,” said Ntabazalila.
According to Prasa Chief Investigator, Jan Paul Jordaan who testified during the trial trains fail to generate income due to trains being non-operational resulting in Prasa falling 70% under budget monthly. He added that this has affected the Western Cape community more especially the people who use trains because they are cheaper.
Senior State Advocate Aradhana Heeramun argued the court to consider the financial loss suffered by Prasa, however, he said the real tragedy lays with the commuters who have to use taxis which are more expensive ultimately costing commuters more money.
“Only the taxi industry benefits when trains are put out of service. Prasa has to reimburse commuters due to sets being put out of use. The replacement of the carriages comes at exorbitant costs to the State,” he concluded.
Picture: Cape Town ETC