The Rail Enforcement Unit winning the fight against rail related crime and continues to secure convictions against perpetrators despite the uncertainty of the unit's future. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The Rail Enforcement Unit makes inroads in the fight against rail related crime, in spite of uncertainty of the future of the unit.

Seven metal thieves, involved in the damage to Metrorail’s essential infrastructure, were convicted in various courts.

All seven were charged and sentenced for theft or damage of essential infrastructure.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said most of the stolen items were recovered and the majority of offenders entered a guilty plea.

She said about 38 cases have been finalised over the last 15 months and another 143 were in progress.

“To date 334.5 years of jail sentences have been imposed."

The seven convicted included: Siyabonga Ndywili, who appearered in Athlone Magistrate’s Court on March 17,sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, of which four years were suspended for a period of five years, with 73 days in custody, charged for theft of approximately 16.5 meters of underground cable.

Oesman Mohamed and Leon Smith both appeared at the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court on September 16 last year and were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for a period of five years, and were declared unfit to possess firearms, spent 253 days in custody, charged for theft of about 21m of underground cable to the value of R20000.

Mark Boonzaaier, appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court in September last year and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, of which six years were suspended for a period of five years, and was declared unfit to possess firearm. Shakier Adams and Neville Mathews, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on June 5 last year, the two pleaded guilty and were sentenced to eight years imprisonment, of which four years were suspended for a period of five years, and were declared unfit to possess firearms. They were charged for theft and recovery of pendrol springs, rail chairs and clip bolts.

Mpololo Mbanga appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on May last year and had three years of direct imprisonment, with 267 days in custody, and was charged for theft of 2.6m of 61 core underground signal cable.

Regional manager Richard Walker said: “The region has access to excellent investigative and forensic resources, which strengthen the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) cases in court and up-skill our security teams.”

He said despite scores of successful convictions, scrap dealers still flout the law.

Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela’s spokesperson Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka said the Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) is continuing to do its work as agreed and as reported on regularly in the past.

“Progress with the finalisation of the extension of the agreement is progressing well.

“The parties to the agreement are re-assessing the most effective way of communicating the outcome of the work of the REU, so as to avoid this important service assuming any appearance of routine,” Makoba-Somdaka said.

@SISONKE_MD

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Cape Argus