The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, the Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (PRASA) and the City of Cape Town have affirmed their commitment to the safety and security of Metrorail commuters and infrastructure by extending the deployment of the Rail Enforcement Unit for another year.
The new Memorandum of Agreement will terminate on 30 June 2020.
On the morning of 18 september 2019, the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Bonginkosi Madikizela; PRASA’s acting Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi; and the City’s Mayoral Committee Members for Transport; and Safety and Security, Alderman Felicity Purchase and Alderman JP Smith, met the new recruits during a parade at the Cape Town Station.
Since its inception on 27 October 2018 the REU has acted as a force multiplier for PRASA’s regional Protection Services Unit. Together, the teams have ensured greater operational visibility on trains and stations, searching more individuals during joint operations, and confiscating a greater number of dangerous weapons and fraudulent train tickets.
The following successes were recorded by the unit for the period 27 October 2018 to 30 June 2019:
• 157 arrests on a range of charges including assault, possession of drugs and stolen property, malicious damage to property, and theft
• 13 637 stop-and-searches conducted on trains, platforms and at stations across Cape Town
• 477 operations within the rail environment
• 1,8 km of copper cable impounded
• 824 kg of stolen metal impounded
• 1 834 inspections of hotspot areas and scrapyards
• Section 56 notices to appear in court issued: 180 to the value of R282 900
• Section 341 notices issued: 231 fines to the value of R210 000
‘It is not often that all three spheres of government get to collaborate in this manner and the pilot year presented some challenges and initial teething problems. That said, I’m delighted that we have been able to conclude a new agreement that will see the REU officers on the beat for at least another 12 months. This is a clear signal to our residents and commuters that we are committed to improving the safety and security on the trains and at the stations,’ said Minister Madikizela.
The unit will remain at a force strength of 100 officers. Although some of the members are new recruits, the majority of the REU’s officers have gained a lot of experience during the first pilot period which will assist in fine tuning operations and making the unit even more efficient and effective.
‘Within the first few days back on the ground, the City’s Law Enforcement officers made an arrest for cable theft when they confiscated 20 meters of railway signal cable. The REU’ is a force to be reckoned with and their successes and impact speak volumes. In the pilot stages of the REU 1,8 km of copper cable and 824 kg of stolen metal was impounded. The City is being approached by more entities who are concluding agreements for Law Enforcement staff to support and safeguard their operations, with Golden Arrow Bus Service the latest one to join. This creates exciting new possibilities for collaboration,’ said Alderman Smith.
The extension of the pilot period for another year is also timeous as the festive season is approaching.
‘The REU’s presence will go a long way in improving the safety and security of our rail commuters. Urban rail should be the backbone of public transport in Cape Town and commuters’ mode of choice. It is cheaper and more efficient than any road-based transport, but then our commuters should feel safe in the coaches and at the stations, and they should have confidence in the service by knowing that they will arrive at their destinations on time, without any cancellations or delays. It will make a huge difference if we can restore commuters’ faith in our urban rail service – not only will residents save a lot of money, but it will also assist us to alleviate traffic congestion which has become much worse as more commuters are now travelling by road to get to work,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Alderman Felicity Purchase.
The stakeholders remain fully committed to working together in order to confront the scourge of vandalism, theft and crime that have been afflicting Cape Town commuters, and threatening the provision of a safe and reliable service. The refined Rail Enforcement Unit will go a long way to turning the tide on the criminality that has become so synonymous with our rail network.
Commenting on the effect of theft on the system, PRASA’s acting Group CEO noted the inconvenience to Metrorail customers as a result of the vandalism. ‘Our customers deserve a reliable and safe train service and we will stop at nothing to bring criminals to book who prevent us delivering a much needed service to our commuters. The destruction of government property, including PRASA infrastructure, is an affront to the rule of law. This partnership goes beyond passenger rail services, but demonstrates how government can work together to fight crime and protect its assets and its citizens,’ said Dr Sishi.
The public remain an integral component of the fight against attacks on the rail system and rewards of up to R25 000 are payable for information leading to successful convictions. Illicit and suspicious activity may be reported to any number listed below:
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