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30 May 2018

Release: immediately

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape condemns in the strongest terms possible the suspected arson attacks that took place between Southfield and Ottery stations, today, 30 May 2018, and on Tuesday, 22 May 2018, when a train arrived at Retreat station on fire.

Today’s alleged attack resulted in the death of one individual and left 4 injured. I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the bereaved family of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured.

I call on the National Minister, Blade Nzimande, to account for these attacks by informing South Africans of what is being done to make public transport safer for commuters to use, whilst also prioritising the protection of PRASA’s assets.

The DA-led Western Cape government has already, through a Memorandum of Agreement, contributed R16 million, as the safety of all commuters is a priority for this caring government. PRASA is a SOE, and thus the responsibility of the ANC-led national government, yet we have contributed 100 additional law enforcement officers to ensure commuter safety and protection of infrastructure.

One incident on 20 October 2015 alone cost PRASA R34 million when 6 carriages of a single train were set alight in a case of alleged arson. The number of theft and vandalism incidences to the Western Cape’s rolling stock and rail infrastructure is astonishingly high. In 2013, there were 1621 incidents, in 2014 there were 2568 incidents, in 2015 there were 1773 incidents and in 2016, between January and April, there were 470 incidents.

These alleged attacks are barbaric and reflect PRASA’s inability to beef up security for its commuters and infrastructure. Metrorail must ensure that all trains and coaches are fitted with CCTV cameras and security personnel.

I further wish to commend the train crew for their speedy response to the emergency as they quickly decoupled burning coaches to prevent the fire from spreading.

PRASA must further account for how they are spending their budget, which they have so far failed to do, as their 2016/17 annual report remains outstanding. It is shameful that commuters must risk their lives when boarding trains as crime goes unaddressed.

The DA in the Western Cape is committed to ensuring that our residents have access to a safe and reliable rail service.

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