President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday condemned the attack on a train driver and 10 other Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) staff members.
“Government will not allow crime of any kind to go unpunished, and we will act particularly severely against criminals who destroy public assets or services. These criminal acts affect users of such assets and services, as well as personnel who are themselves members of our communities,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“Where grievances exist, government is always open to hearing from communities and working with South Africans to overcome any problems people may face. However, there is no grievance that justifies violence or vandalism. In Human Rights Month, we must again condemn violence against women, as was experienced by the train driver.”
On Wednesday, Prasa said a female train driver was stripped naked, hit with a brick and dragged into the thickets during the ongoing attack on trains along the Pretoria to Piennarspoort corridor.
“Amongst some of the criminality that took place yesterday [Tuesday] includes the senseless attack of Prasa female train driver who was mobbed, hit on the head with a brick, stripped of her clothing and was being dragged to nearby bushes when they were intercepted by Prasa response teams. An additional 10 Prasa employees were also attacked during this incident,” the agency said.
“Prasa is dismayed at the catastrophic levels of crime against its employees and assets. The vandalism and criminality is widespread and demands a higher intervention by all interested parties including the community,” said CEO Cromet Molepo
On Thursday, the Presidency said that Ramaphosa asked Prasa for a full report on the incident.
“At the same time, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has given the President an undertaking that a plan outlining measures to normalise the situation around Prasa services and assets has been developed and shall be announced shortly. The Pretoria incident is regrettably one in a series of assaults on Prasa passengers, staff and infrastructure around the country.”
Ramaphosa called on law enforcement agencies and Prasa to do their “utmost to bring offenders to book”.
Ramaphosa wished the affected Prasa staff members a speedy recovery from this week’s traumatic incident.
On Wednesday, Prasa said it was holding a series of meetings with various stakeholders following the attack.
“We are very worried about the psychological impact such attacks have on our employees as a whole. Last year a member of the security team was killed by a mob whilst on duty during service delivery protests that spilled onto our service in Gauteng. Meanwhile in Cape Town and Durban our members are robbed at gun point and some even stabbed whilst doing their jobs.”
The agency said a total of six new trains in one year have been vandalised along the Pretoria and Piennarspoort line at a cost of R 6.5 million.
Metrorail condemns attack on train crew and stoning of the new train pic.twitter.com/P6gI3tfRV0
— metrorailgp (@metrorailgp) March 8, 2018