A train driver was shot while on duty on Sunday morning, in yet another attack on railway staff. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has deployed armed security staff to escort train drivers on and off duty following the attacks.
Several reports of attacks on train drivers on duty have been logged.
In January, Metrorail suspended its services on the central line after a security guard was shot at Chris Hani Station. The security guard was escorting a female metro guard during a shift on the Metrorail train between Cape Town and Khayelitsha when two men approached them and shot the security guard in his throat, he died instantly.
The incident caused the shut down of the Central Line which left commuters stranded. The line remained closed until last week due to crime and severe damage to property.
On February 12, PRASA and the Western Cape government announced that a special unit would be set up to deal with the rampant crime and vandalism.
In yesterday’s incident, train drivers on duty were attacked by a group of unknown armed men in Phillipi, Samora Machel.
“The driver of the vehicle was shot in the shoulder and thankfully survived the horrific attack,” PRASA said in a statement.
The rail agency has now partnered with SAPS in a pledge to protect its staff, especially train drivers and technicians who are often under criminal attack. An additional 88 armed security staff have been deployed to the Western Cape, as well as two armoured vehicles. The armed security will patrol on a 24-hour basis, and this will enable technicians to repair essential equipment without the fear of being attacked.
According to PRASA, asset protection will continue to ensure that essential infrastructure such as apparatus cases and track boxes are secured.
“PRASA is under siege and yet we service a high number of passengers who rely solely on our services. We have now started to deviate funding to hire more security personnel, money that could in fact be used towards servicing passengers. PRASA is the only public transport service that is currently under such tremendous pressure to deliver services using old and obsolete technology at a low cost to customers, but one that is the least respected as evidenced by the relentless onslaught of vandalism and criminal attacks against our personnel and infrastructure” says Cromet Molepo, Acting Group CEO of PRASA.