Armed security staff employed by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa to escort train drivers on duty came under fire by a group of unknown armed men in Philippi. Photo: Prasa

Cape Town - Armed security staff employed by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to escort train drivers on duty were attacked and came under fire by a group of unknown armed men in Philippi, Samora Machel, in Cape Town on Sunday morning, Prasa said.

"The driver of the vehicle was shot in the shoulder and thankfully survived the horrific attack," Prasa said in a statement.    

This attack followed a series of criminal attacks against Prasa staff while engaged in their daily operations. Prasa, in partnership with the police, had pledged to protect its staff, especially train drivers and technicians who found themselves at the receiving end of criminal attacks.

In the Western Cape, 88 additional armed security guards and two armoured vehicles had been deployed to patrol day and night to enable technical teams to repair vital equipment and prevent further attacks on rail infrastructure. Asset protection and target hardening measures continued to ensure that vital infrastructure, such as point machines, apparatus cases, and track boxes were secured, Prasa said.

Armed security staff employed by Prasa came under fire by a group of unknown armed men in Philippi, Samora Machel, in Cape Town on Sunday morning. Photo: Prasa

These measures had been brought about by the ongoing delays in opening the vital Central Line for operations, as criminals continued to strip and vandalise the line at an unprecedented rate, causing delays and derailments as a result of stolen rail tracks, Prasa said.

“Prasa is under siege and yet we service a high number of passengers who rely solely on our services," Prasa acting group CEO Cromet Molepo said in the statement.

"We have now started to deviate funding to hire more security personnel, money that could in fact be used towards servicing passengers. Prasa is the only public transport service that is currently under such tremendous pressure to deliver services using old and obsolete technology at a low cost to customers, but one that is the least respected as evidenced by the relentless onslaught of vandalism and criminal attacks against our personnel and infrastructure,” Molepo said.

African News Agency/ANA