File photo: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government is offering a R100 000 reward to anyone providing police with information which will result in the arrest and successful conviction of those responsible for destroying train carriages through arson attacks on the Cape Town rail system.

The reward is being offered through the community safety department, Western Cape premier Helen Zille and community safety MEC Dan Plato said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Arson damage to trains over the past four months had amounted to about R50 million, and at least R210 million over the past five years. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) required 88 train sets to run an effective service. Currently, due to arson, cable theft, and vandalism, the available sets were down to below 40.

“We are calling on those with information to come forward. The Cape rail system is the backbone that connects the people of Cape Town with their livelihoods, education, and personal interests," Zille said.

Sabotaging the people’s daily commuting system was a direct attack on freedom of movement and had serious knock-on effects for the Western Cape economy and productivity. The organised criminal elements behind these attacks must be exposed,” she said.

"The R100 000 reward we are making available is our warning to these arsonists - you are being watched, you will be caught and we will not allow you to derail this province,” Plato said.

Although Metrorail was the sole responsibility of the national government, the provincial public works and transport department recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Prasa and the City of Cape Town.

As part of this MoA, the province had contributed R16 million to improve Metrorail’s security measures. There were 100 additional security officials currently undergoing training by the city’s law enforcement, for deployment to guard trains and rail infrastructure.

“We urge rail passengers to report all crimes to the police and work with all law enforcement officials. Those responsible for the crimes are someone’s child, someone’s sibling or someone’s neighbour. These are the people that need to break their silence and assist the police,” Plato said.

African News Agency (ANA)