Police have made no breakthrough on who is responsible or the motive for the 2018 torching of trains in the Western Cape. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Although the torching of trains in the Western Cape has stopped since October, police have made no breakthrough on who is responsible or the motive for the attacks.

A juvenile was expected to appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for malicious damage to property involving trains, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said on Monday. However this only related to one incident.

Rwexana said investigations involving train damage and arson in the Western Cape was ongoing. “No other arrests were made so far.”

Despite the lull in train arson since October 9, Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) intelligence has been escalated to the highest appropriate authorities and “we remain optimistic of a positive outcome”.

Scott said capital funds were reassigned to fund 54 projects to stabilise the service in the Western Cape.

“The government has guaranteed R172 billion for Prasa to modernise its entire aged train fleet and obsolete supporting infrastructure over a 20-year term.”

Scott said it included long-distance trains and commuter services across the country.

She said, the total value of the project in progress was R292 million.

“(A total of) R9billion has been assigned to modernise the Western Cape rail infrastructure.”

Scott said R3bn would see the region receiving 35 new train sets.

“The first sets are expected by the end of 2020 and R2.9bn would be used to upgrade the maintenance depot, security and fencing/walling in preparation for the new fleet,” she said.

However, the United National Transport Union (Untu) and United Commuters Voice (UCV) said they were still disturbed by not getting any feedback on the train arson from Transport Minister Blade Nzimande and Prasa.

Untu spokesperson Sonja Carstens said she was concerned that there was only one arrest over a number of trains set alight and some vandalised.

“Why is it difficult to investigate people behind the train fires? Who was behind it?,” she asked.

Carstens speculated that the attacks might be related to a taxi or bus vendetta “or even politically skewed”.

UCV spokesperson Joao Jardim said since the launch of the Rail Enforcement Unit on October 29, the attacks in Cape Town had come to a standstill.

Incidents last year included: a Metrorail train which was pulled into Retreat station on May 22. A train set alight in Ottery that claimed the life of a commuter and left several injured on May 30.

Another was set alight on the southern line at Steenberg station on June 18.

The last incident was at Cape Town Central on October 9.


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Cape Argus