Activists say despite improvements and the beefing up of Metrorail security, it has not made enough of a difference to commuters. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency
Cape Town - Despite Metrorail’s briefing about its safety collaboration between law-enforcement agencies, private security contractors and the National Prosecuting Authority to fight vandalism and cable theft, activists say it has not made enough of a difference.

It has been a year since the implementation of extra security resources and six months since the specialised Rail Enforcement Unit was launched in the Western Cape.

Metrorail held its second briefing on Wednesday on the progress the team has made. Metrorail Western Cape regional manager Richard Walker said there had been 347 arrests within 365 days.

“The teams responded to 258 incidents which resulted in 347 arrests. Of the 186 cases presented to court, bail was denied in every case and 27 successful convictions secured, with a combined total of 171 years and six months’ imprisonment,” Walker said.

Walker also tabled the damages for the 12 months, and said they amounted to R134.1 million.

He said the most targeted material proved to be underground signal cables and of these, nearly all (93%) were recovered by the teams.

“The forensic team made 1177 court appearances in 12 months, attending up to 40 court cases every week. Sentences received varied from a R3000 fine to 30 years’ direct imprisonment, the latter sentence given to a notorious gang leader,” he said.

However, The Unite Behind coalition and United Commuters Voice (UCV) were not happy with the briefing.

Unite Behind organiser Lumkile Sizila said they wanted to see implementation, not talks.

“The commuters are frustrated.” He said Metrorail was not presenting time frames.

“Most of the train stations’ CCTV and lights are dysfunctional. Protection service are not enough,” Sizila said.

UCV spokesperson Joao Jardim said the most vulnerable were still being left out. “The Worcester train is a prime example of this. After many calls, still nothing is being done to assist the commuters,” Jardim said.

He said boosting the services would only come from community engagement and proper employee training.

“The criminal element needs to be rooted out, but with all the news of corruption, it is difficult to tell employees not to follow their peers.”

In his presentation, Walker mapped the way forward, saying that it had become essential that the demand for scrap metal be adequately regulated and enforced.

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Cape Argus