Train crime still very high in Western Cape, police tell MPs

2016-05-11 20:00
(Adiel Ismail, Fin24)

(Adiel Ismail, Fin24)

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Stabbed and thrown from a moving train, Darryn August remembers that fateful day

2016-05-11 08:30

We speak to Darryn August, a man from Athlone who tried to step in during a robbery on a train on April 25. August was beaten, stabbed and thrown from the moving train. He speaks to us from his hospital bed, and recounts his movements on the day of the robbery.WATCH

Cape Town – Contact crimes on trains and malicious damage to property are still very high in the Western Cape, a police official told the provincial Standing Committee on Community Safety on Wednesday.

The committee also heard that arrests in relation to these incidents were low.

Brigadier Jaco Bothma admitted that, while the provincial Rapid Rail Police Unit had more than 500 officers and 100 members in training, many more were needed.

He addressed the committee on safety measures and challenges following a spike in violent crime on the railway system.

A number of carriages have been set alight in separate incidents in Cape Town in the last few months.

Bothma told members that some people "lived out their anger" on rail infrastructure.

"Last year, there was quite an increase in service delivery action, not only in the Western Cape, but around the country. For the next three months and after the election period, there will be an increase."

Cancellations and delays were also mentioned as pushing people towards violence.

Officers had to police "highly charged" people who were late for work, arrived very late at home, or even lost their jobs.

'Don’t have enough officers'

Botha listed open access to railways, camera footage and lighting as other challenges.

The low number of arrests concerned committee chairperson Mireille Wenger because she imagined conviction rates were probably even lower.

"One can see that the police are trying to do the best they can with the limited resources, but what is very clear is that they don’t have enough officers to be able to perform their duties to a level that citizens deserve," she said after the presentation.

It was hoped that various parties would finalise the signing of a memorandum of understanding, related to security functions in the rail environment.

Passenger Rail Agency of SA regional manager Richard Walker informed the committee that most arrests were as a result of their own security.

He pointed to a number of initiatives they were undertaking to deal with hotspots, and said they continued to work with police under very difficult circumstances.

Walker emphasised that, as someone who used the trains daily, he understood the plight of commuters.

Education and entrenching a culture of protecting assets were needed, he said.

Watch as officials have their say on proceedings:

Read more on:    metrorail  |  police  |  cape town  |  crime

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