Activists from #UniteBehind occupy the Prasa offices in the Cape Town CBD. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
#UniteBehind are occupying the PRASA offices in Cape Town to demand a safe and efficient commuter rail service, a nd we will be at the ANC Western Cape Office to receive an answer to the letter we delivered last week.

Today, Wednesday 17 April 2019, the #UniteBehind coalition are occupying the offices of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa in Cape Town.

One hundred and twenty people from Elsies River, Khayelitsha, Salt River, Woodstock, Gugulethu, Cape Town, Kraaifontein and Kenilworth among others are standing shoulder to shoulder to demand freedom, safety, equality and respect for our rights to education, work and family life.

Death, sexual violence, delays, line shutdowns, mismanagement, train crashes, fear, anxiety and pain is the daily lot of the working-class across our country.

We refuse to accept this injustice any longer.

The ANC is the party of the majority of our people and it has the power to #FixOurTrains.

Activists from #UniteBehind occupy the Prasa offices in the Cape Town CBD. Video: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Ten #UniteBehind activists will also occupy the offices of the Western Cape ANC to receive a reply to the letter we sent to our President Cyril Ramaphosa.

We do this because Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande cannot do his job instead, he has demonstrated cronyism and nepotism which is unlawful.

We demand that a national disaster be declared on commuter rail, we have been calling for this since last year. If a national disaster is declared it will unlock government funds to stabilise a system that is in the midst of a crisis. 

We demand that the Minister appoint a permanent board at PRASA within six weeks, and to appoint a commuter representative to this board.

The current board has been interim since last year, and has been temporarily extended for six months. We desperately need stable and ethical leadership if we are to #FixOurTrains.

We are also calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fulfil his commitment of meeting with commuters in Cape Town. After his misguided electioneering stunt in Cape Town last week at the launch of two new trains, we peacefully blockaded his motorcade to demand to be heard.

We had questions on the corruption and looting that has taken place at PRASA and the R24 billion that has been stolen from PRASA over the last decade. We also asked for our commuter-centred safety plan. We also asked if he will still care about the trains after election day on May 8.

There are things the African National Congress (ANC) can do before the election to help stabilise the commuter rail crisis. Do not use the pain of working class people who rely on the train service on your campaign.
Activists from #UniteBehind occupy the Prasa offices in the Cape Town CBD. Video: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
We are doing this for all the families who have been affected by the disastrous train service. PRASA must be held accountable for their actions. We are doing this Simo Maninginingi Kwepe from Zonnebloem Nest School who was killed on the Salt River rail last week. We are doing this for Fabian Karels who passed away last week after being hit by a train. We are doing this for Keeno Abib who passed away last year after he fell off a moving train trying to run away by gangsters trying to rob him. We are also doing this for the Van Minnens who also lost their son on the train more than 17 years ago and all the other families.

#Justice4Simo and all the others who have lost their lives on the trains.

On 26 April 2019, we will commence a hunger-strike to #FixOurTrains and to mark 25 years of freedom.

* #UniteBehind is a coalition of people's movements joined by legal, policy and research organisations working for a just and equal society where the people share in the country's wealth and our environment is protected for future generations.