Low Arrests and No Convictions in Train Arson Attacks, Cause for Deep Concern
Premier Helen Zille is deeply concerned that – over the last 10 years – SAPS have made only two arrests and secured no convictions relating to increasing train arson attacks across the City of Cape Town.
These statistics were sourced from SAPS for a Parliamentary reply to the provincial legislature by Community Safety MEC Dan Plato.
“This information reflects a problem throughout the criminal justice pipeline, starting with Crime Intelligence. Train burning is economic sabotage on a grand scale. There needs to be sufficient urgency and expertise brought to bear on investigating, arresting, charging and convicting those responsible. It is wholly unacceptable that not a single person has been held accountable for these brazen attacks, many of which are initiated in broad daylight and in busy carriages. The question must be asked: why?” said Premier Zille.
The Western Cape Government, through the Department of Community Safety, has already committed a R100 000 reward to anyone who provides information to the police which results in the arrest and successful conviction of those responsible for train arson on the Cape Town rail system.
Premier Helen Zille said: “I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Provincial Police Commissioner, Lt. Gen. K.E. Jula, to inquire about SAPS’s efforts to address this matter. We are calling on those with information to come forward. The Cape rail system is the backbone of a transport system that connects the people of Cape Town with their livelihoods, education and personal interests.”
Arson damage to trains over the past four months has amounted to approximately R50 million, and at least R210 million over the past five years. PRASA requires 88 train sets to run an effective service. Currently, due to arson, cable theft, and vandalism, the available sets are down to below 40 – fewer than half the number required.
The number of passengers using Metrorail has declined from more than 608 000 in 2014 to 360 000 in 2017. This has a direct effect on congestion on the Cape Town’s roads, as passengers shun the dysfunctional rail system.
Although Metrorail is the sole responsibility of the National Government, earlier this year, the provincial Public Works and Transport Department signed a Memorandum of Agreement with PRASA and the City of Cape Town.
As part of this MOA, the Province contributed R16 million to improve Metrorail’s security measures. There are 100 additional security officials currently undergoing training by the City’s law enforcement, for deployment to guard trains and rail infrastructure.
Premier Helen Zille added: “I will visit the training academy in due course, to see how these officers are being prepared to safeguard the rail system.
“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.”