A R100 000 reward has been offered for any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of whoever is behind the recent series of train fires plaguing the Mother City. The sizable reward is being offered by The Western Cape Government.
Dan Plato, MEC for Community Safety in the Western Cape, said that the reward is also a warning to the arsonists. “You are being watched, you will be caught and we will not allow you to derail this province,” he said on Sunday.
“We urge rail passengers to report all crimes to the police and work with all law enforcement officials. Those responsible for the crimes are someone’s child, someone’s sibling or someone’s neighbour – these are the people that need to break their silence and assist the police,” Plato added.
Thus far, the damage of arson to trains has amounted to over R50-million in the past four months alone. Over the past five years, train fires have caused at least R210-million in damages.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is currently operating with less than 40 train sets, and its minimum requirement to work efficiently is 88 train sets. Effectively, this means that Prasa is operating at less than 50% capacity.
Last week, the Railways Safety Regulator (RSR) issued Prasa a temporary safety permit after it came to life that the rail agency was operating with an expired safety permit. The RSR made it clear that it was concerned about Prasa’s inability to effectively control the risk to its assets, as well as its dedication to the safety of its customers and staff.
Prasa has said that it will use August to ensure that they are complaint with the RSR’s safety standards.
Premier of Western Cape, Helen Zille, said that they are calling on those who have information to come forward. “The Cape rail system is the backbone that connects the people of Cape Town with their livelihoods, education and personal interests. The sabotaging of people’s daily commuting system is a direct attack on freedom of movement and has serious knock-on effects for the Western Cape economy and productivity. The organised criminal elements behind these attacks must be exposed.”
The provincial department of Public Works and Transport Department recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Prasa and the City of Cape Town.
As part of this MOA, the province has contributed R16-million to improve the safety measure of Metrorail. There are 100 additional security officials currently undergoing training by the City’s law enforcement, who will be deployed to guard trains and rail infrastructure.