Prasa hunting down 'enemies' responsible for Cape Town train attacks

All stops are being pulled out to find those responsible for three arson attacks on trains in Cape Town this month, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board said on Sunday.

"It is clear to us that this is the work of people who have placed themselves as enemies of Prasa, enemies of our commuters and enemies of the South African government," Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said.

She said the burning of trains between July 21 and Saturday had caused millions of Rand in damages to their rolling stock and network.

"No stone will be left unturned to find those who are responsible for this senseless malicious damage to property.

"The target will not only be the foot soldiers who carry out these crimes but also those who command them and stand to benefit from these criminal acts."

On Saturday afternoon, two carriages were set alight at Cape Town station in a suspected arson attack, according to the City’s fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne.

The fire broke out at approximately 17:40.

Metrorail said on Sunday that platforms 13 and 14 at the station would be out of commission until the end of at least Tuesday.

"Teams of forensic investigators, SAPS and engineers have combed the area of the fire that destroyed three carriages after yet another fire at Cape Town Station," said spokesperson Riana Scott.

The train was towed to a depot to determine the exact extent and cost of the damage.

Technical teams established that the rail tracks, sleepers and other equipment below the burnt carriages was left unscathed.

Workers would start repairing the overhead cables on Monday morning.

Scott said the latest attack was the sixth recorded for this year.

A total of 149 carriages had been lost to the provincial train fleet since May 2015.

The cost of the previous two incidents amounted to a total of around R51m.

"Trains were once a punctual and reliable way of getting to work but incessant attacks on the system have left the region, the city and the province congested and unproductive," said regional manager Richard Walker.

The City's Transport Mayoral Committee Member Brett Herron said the most recent attacks were targeting the central line which had the "highest passenger demand" and was already operating "at a fraction of its capacity".

"It is undeniable that a sinister force is at work to completely destroy our rail system," he said in a statement on Saturday.

"Our commuter rail system is under relentless attack and this is clearly not opportunistic crime but a well orchestrated programme of sabotage."

Zenani said the saboteurs were "our neighbours and our relatives who have taken a stance against us".

The Prasa board and management assured that it was working hard to recover the rolling stock and network.

"We are working to return the service to one that is safe, available, reliable and on time. This is our commitment to the South African public.

"Our commitment and resolve in this regard will not be hampered by senseless acts of violence against our rolling stock and network meant to feed the gluttony of a few."

Zenani called on communities to stand with Prasa.

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