It has been a year since Metrorail first implemented additional security resources in an effort to put a stop to the recurrent incidences of vandalism and theft on the Western Cape’s rail network. The teams responded to more than 258 incidences in the past year and made 347 arrests.
Of the 186 cases taken to court, bail was denied to the vandals in every case and 27 successful convictions secured, with a combined total of 171 years and six months of imprisonment.
The calculated total for damages to trains in the past year amounts to R134.1-million, while stolen goods amount to R22.6-million. Goods to the overall value of R4.56-million were recovered as well.
The most targeted material proved to be underground signal cable, and nearly all of it was recovered by the teams. The teams recover on average R380 722.72-worth of stolen material every month.
“The combined efforts of PRASA Protection Services, SAPS Rapid Rail Response Unit, provincial SAPS offices and security contractors yielded excellent results,” Richard Walker, Western Cape regional head of PRASA, said. “Arrests are made most days and within 12 months 27 convictions were secured – that is excellent performance in anyone’s book.”
Walker expressed his satisfaction that perpetrators are finally starting to pay the price for their actions, pointing out that the statistics show the conviction of culprits has become the new norm.
“This is due to the scrupulous compilation of the requisite documentation, indisputable forensic evidence presented and comprehensive data analyses,” he said. “It is like digging a hole in sand, the deeper one digs the more the hole fills up with fresh sand.”
Detailed analyses have shown that:
– PRASA is one of several industries reliant on copper technology majorly affected (others include mobile phone operators, Eskom, municipalities, and Transnet)
– The rate of theft of copper correlates directly with the price of copper
– The theft of non-ferrous metals has escalated to unprecedented levels in South Africa over the past decade because it is so lucrative
– Annual losses amount to R5-billion (excluding the cost to the economy)
– The illicit metal theft trade causes significant damage to structures and has a debilitating effect on society at large.
“It is an extremely lucrative industry that debilitates the entire country and therefore requires collaboration at the highest level,” Walker added. “It remains a largely cash-based industry – that is why we must lobby for electronic payment methods that can be traced and VAT can be levied.”
Report illicit or suspicious activity immediately to:
Metrorail Protection Services hot-line on (021) 449 4336/5056
RRPU Cape Town (Platform 1) on (021) 443 4325
RRPU Bellville on (021) 941 6800
RRPU Philippi /Stock Road on (021) 370 1011
RRPU Retreat on (021) 710 5129
RRPU Radio Control/ OPS room on (021) 449 4309/10
SAPS Crime Stop on 0860 10111
Crime Line – SMS 32211
Rewards of up to R25 000 will be paid for information leading to a successful conviction.