The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has appealed to the public to help confirm the identity of the four suspects captured on security cameras in the “act” of train arson at Cape Town Station in the early hours of Thursday.
Prasa has put up a reward of R100 000 for information that would secure their conviction. Prasa group chief executive Nkosinathi Sishi said setting fire to railway infrastructure was inexcusable and sabotage.
“Every incident further reduces Metrorail’s ability to offer its users a reliable, safe and convenient service. The harder we work to modernize the rail services, the more these incidents undermine train users and public confidence in the Western Cape train service.”
Sishi said investigations and intelligence point to orchestrated sabotage within the Western Cape rail network, causing millions of rand in damage since the start of the sporadic spate of fires in 2015.
Chairperson of the City’s transport portfolio committee Angus McKenzie called on Richard Walker, Metrorail Western Cape regional manager, to step down. McKenzie said in the past three years, more than 140 carriages had been destroyed.
“It cannot be that after three years only one mentally unstable individual has been arrested for this attack in Cape Town and its residents. Richard Walker must be held accountable and must immediately either be relieved of his duties or do the honourable thing and resign,” McKenzie said.
Prasa has then stated its intention to appeal recent rulings by the Gauteng and Western Cape High Courts that reinstated the contracts of private security companies along with their 2 400 contract employees.
Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said Prasa has instructed its lawyers to launch an appeal against the recent High Court judgments, “Prasa lawyers are currently in the process of preparing court documents to this end”.
Prasa’s decision to terminate the contracts follows the previous Public Protector’s report “Derailed” as well as the Auditor General’s report that found these contracts to have been irregularly awarded.
“It is these irregularities that informed the decision of the Board to appeal against these court decisions,” Zenani said.
On Thursday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula attacked the Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe following his last month ruling against Prasa, and the termination of security company contracts “without the finalization of an alternative contract”.
Hlophe ruled that Prasa must continue the security contracts until the new tender is finalized or alternative measures are put in place, including an interim security plan within a month.