Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says the deadly attack on a Metrorail train which resulted in one passenger being killed and eight others injured was premeditated by a gang hell-bent on ensuring that the public transport system grinds to a halt.

The rail agency has condemned the attack between Lynedoch and Eerste River stations at the weekend.

A group of armed men robbed the commuters of their personal belongings and then threw them off the moving train.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said cases of murder and attempted murder were registered. No one has been arrested.

“It is believed that commuters were attacked by a group of armed suspects on the train and robbed of personal effects.

“The commuters were stabbed and thrown from the train. Eight male persons were injured during the incident,” said Traut.

Metrorail spokesperson Zino Mihi said information received from the police indicated that the injured commuters were colleagues from the Eerste River area.

Prasa board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama said: “This callous act by fellow citizens on defenceless and innocent passengers, who in the main are the poorest of the poor, is indicative of a wounded nation. This sudden shift to attacking innocent citizens, who are soft targets, is unbearable and is condemned in the strongest terms,” said Kweyama.

She said the board refused to classify the attack as an act of mere robbers. “This attack on passengers was premeditated by a gang of people who deliberately wanted to inflict so much pain not only to the victims and their families but are hell-bent on ensuring that this public transport system grinds to a halt,” she said.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said the incident was “unfortunate and distressing”.

Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said he was “shocked beyond words by the horrific details” of the attack.

Transport MEC Donald Grant condemned the incident, saying: “The Western Cape Government has partnered with the City of Cape Town and Prasa on various initiatives aimed at improving safety over the past few years. We hope these initiatives will result in improved safety conditions for the thousands of commuters.”

Cape Times