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Cape Town - Metrorail ticket verifiers get drunk at a nearby tavern, pick fights with commuters and then call on station security guards to intervene on their behalf.

These were the allegations levelled by a peace officer at Cape Town station.

The peace officers are employed by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to protect commuters from criminals.

“I am sick and tired of these guys,” said the peace officer, who asked to remain anonymous because of fears that he would lose his job.

“My job is to keep the peace, but when they drink like that they become very cheeky. They pick a fight with the customers over the smallest thing. And then they call me to discipline the customer? The commuters are people who pay for their tickets. It is the verifiers who should be disciplined, if you ask me.”

The peace officer alleged that a core group drank at Yummies Taverna in Harrington Street, near the Castle. They go there during their breaks and return to the railway station to complete their shift. Sometimes they arrive for the early shift still drunk from the night before. In that case they carry on drinking during their breaks to deal with their hangover, he said.

The Cape Argus visited Yummies on Tuesday. The tavern’s name is advertised on the outside wall, but there is little indication it is open for business. One has to walk into the reception area and up a flight of stairs to get to the bar, where the windows are blacked out.

Shortly before noon the bar was almost full. Patrons were drinking, smoking and chatting. Some were playing pool, others watched television.

A Metrorail ticket verifier, said: “Yes, I know about Yummies. I’ve been there once, but I don’t really like that sort of thing during the day when I’m working.”

The employee said the “usual suspects” drank at Yummies daily. They got away with it because they “disguise the alcohol and drunkenness well”.

“As long as you report to your station on time and don’t make a big scene, you can get away with it. We don’t have people checking up on us. We just do our jobs.”

However, he said the drunks tended to be rude to commuters after returning from Yummies.

Metrorail regional manager Mthuthuzeli Swartz said the company had a “zero- tolerance” approach to“deviant behaviour” from its staff.

“This is important, because many of our staff deal directly with customers on a daily basis. If there are these allegations, we implore members of the public to step forward and identify these employees (who drink at work),” he said, adding that random alcohol tests were conducted on staff.

“Unfortunately ‘anonymous’ sources cannot be investigated. We advise anyone with information to report it to the Prasa Fraud Helpline to assist investigators to get to the bottom of this.”

The number is: 0800 212 679

* A reader complained about the lack of fencing along the railway line in Retreat. He sent photographs of children playing on the tracks and putting what appeared to be rocks on the tracks. Swartz said trains’ motor coaches were easily damaged when rocks were put on the line. “There is very delicate equipment underneath those carriages. One scenario is that the braking system can be damaged, and then one has a runaway train on one’s hands.”

Cape Argus