Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: Bongani Shilubane / African News Agency (ANA)

The security firms hired by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) at great expense must be hauled before Parliament to explain what they have done with the millions they received.

This was Minister of Police Bheki Cele’s response after MPs complained in Parliament on Wednesday that the police had “failed miserably” in protecting the trains in Cape Town, News24 reported.

“Prasa spends millions annually on private security firms to secure its trains and rail network. We have heard that R770 million was spent on such security services in one year, but yet the trains are still being set alight."

According to Cele, Prasa and the Department of Transport must ensure that their trains aren’t targeted by arsonists, cable thieves and vandals. "It’s not the police’s responsibility,” said Cele.

The portfolio committee on transport heard on Wednesday that eight trains have been set alight in Cape Town so far this year. A provincial task team has been investigating the incidents since last month and is trying to track down the suspects.

Cele said he took the train in Cape Town one morning in May this year. "I told myself never again, but what about the people who have to take the train daily and have no choice.”