Commuters will be relieved to know that the Rail Enforcement Unit has made numerous arrests for charges that include assault, possession of drugs, stolen property, damage to property and theft, in a bid to ensure the safety of railway commuters and property.
A spate of train fires that affected commuters across Cape Town razed multiple carriages in 2018. The fires began as early as August 2016, when two trains were set alight at Retreat Station.
Many theorised that ‘sinister motives’ were behind the fires. A R100 000 reward was even offered by the Western Cape Government for anyone with information that would lead to the arrests of the individuals behind them.
Commuters were crippled by the train attacks which left them unable to travel to work. A single train fire in July 2018 which damaged 11 carriages caused up to R30-million in damages. Over a five-year period, train fires have caused at least R210-million in damages.
The REU was launched in October 2018 by the National Minister of Transport and is jointly funded by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
It added 100 law enforcement officers to the existing security personnel to address Metrorail’s security challenges.
The City’s Executive Mayor, Dan Plato commented on the importance of the REU’s involvement in aiding Metrorail security.
“The people of Cape Town deserve a safe and reliable public transport system. Rail should be commuters’ [transport] mode of choice because commuting by rail is more affordable, and it’s the most efficient mode of transport when operating optimally. The REU’s successes to date give me good reason to believe that this unit will assist us in stabilising the urban rail service over the next few months. With less crime and vandalism, we can expect a decrease in delays and cancellations, and with that we can expect more commuters opting for trains as opposed to road-based transport,” Plato said.
In just two months, the REU has already made successful steps in ensuring the security of commuters, including:
1. 36 arrests on a range of charges including assault, possession of drugs and stolen property, malicious damage to property, and theft.
2. Confiscation of 379.5 metres of cable and 800 kg of railway signal cable.
3. Confiscations of contraband and suspected stolen goods that include 21 cellphones, two laptops, drugs, and alcohol.
4. Issuing of 67 section 56 notices, with the assailants to appear in court.
5. Issuing of 97 Section 341 notices
6. A total of 332 inspections of crime hotspots and scrapyards.
Six of these arrests have been made in terms of Section 18 of the Criminal Matters Amendment act of 2015, ensuring that criminals found to have been tampering with or damaging essential infrastructure are imprisoned for a maximum of 30 years.
The REU has also been successful in confiscating a large number of dangerous weapons and fake train tickets.
Metrorail Western Cape’s Regional Manager Richard Walker said that there will be a focus on preventing the sale of such tickets.
“With enforcement success on track, the next priority should be closing down non-compliant scrap dealers and lobbying for legislative changes to permit only traceable electronic payment methods. The current practice of cash-for-copper-no-questions-asked encourages illegal and illicit scrap dealing,” he said.
PRASA has been able to arrest 198 offenders for metal theft due to two laws, the CMAA and the amended Second Hand Goods Act. These arrests have amounted to a total of 95 years in jail sentences.
The public is encouraged to report any incidents of crime and vandalism at the Metrorail . Rewards of up to R 25 000 will be given for information that leads to successful convictions.
Incidents can be reported to the following numbers :
Metrorail Protection Services hot-line: 021 449 4336/021 449 5056
RRPU Cape Town (platform 1): 021 443 4325
RRPU Bellville: 021 941 6800
RRPU Philippi/Stock Road: 021 370 1011
RRPU Retreat: 021 710 5129
RRPU Radio Control/OPS room:021 449 4309/021 449 4310
SAPS Crime Stop: 086 010 111
Crime line: SMS 32211
Picture: Supplied/ City of Cape Town/ REU