Prasa must account for 'barbaric' railway killings - union

2016-07-28 21:16
FILE: Hundreds of mourners turned out for a memorial service at Netreg Station for slain train driver Piet Botha in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

FILE: Hundreds of mourners turned out for a memorial service at Netreg Station for slain train driver Piet Botha in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town – Prasa must be held accountable for the “senseless and barbaric” killings of train and security personnel, trade union Untu has said.

Two armed robbers shot and killed a security guard in Cape Town on Monday, while he was patrolling the central line near Thambo Village. The killers escaped.

He was shot a few kilometres from where train driver Pieter Barend Botha was shot twice in the head for his bag while waiting for a train at the Netreg Station two weeks ago, the United National Transport Union (Untu) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Passenger Rail Agency SA (Prasa) had promised Botha’s family that security at the Netreg Station would be increased immediately, the union said.

'Train drivers in constant fear'

Untu council member Brian Davids said the central line between Cape Town and Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats was getting increasingly dangerous and should be closed if Prasa was unable to secure it.

“Train drivers live in constant fear. The railway line has become so dangerous that they cannot properly focus on the signals they need to look at, allowing them to proceed, as they are constantly on the lookout for criminals,” Davids said.

Government had to help the struggling Prasa fulfil the promise its former group CEO Lucky Montana made in 2013 to spend R100m to upgrade security of railway lines.

Prasa ‘surprised’

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker, speaking on behalf of Prasa, said he was surprised to hear Untu’s claim that Netreg station was being neglected.

He said Botha’s death would not be in vain and they would not put staff at risk when they went into crime-riddled areas, he told News24 on Thursday.

“We have increased and intensified the security at Netreg and surrounding stations. This has been done in consultation with our local union representatives. 

“We are therefore surprised by the statement and claims by Untu. We will continue to engage our unions around issues which impact on the wellbeing of employees.”

‘Crime is escalating’

Walker acknowledged that crime at certain stations around the country was escalating and becoming increasingly violent. He called on police, metro police, and the community safety department to help. He said “drastic measures” were needed.

He said crime in residential areas was spilling over into adjacent railway infrastructure. Commuters were being “held hostage” in gang-infested areas.

 

Read more on:    metrorail  |  untu  |  prasa  |  cape town  |  crime  |  transport

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