Torching of trains 'an attack on poor'

2012-03-01 14:45

Johannesburg - The torching of six trains in Gauteng by striking workers was an attack on the poor and working class, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said on Thursday.

The damage caused was estimated at R38m.

Prasa CEO Mosenngwa Mofi said five people had been arrested.

Three of them had been caught vandalising critical safety infrastructure, he said, adding that this kind of intentional sabotage endangered commuters' lives.


The trains were set alight on Wednesday night at New Canada, the Braamfontein yard and the Elandsfontein yard in Leralla.

"There is no doubt this was an act of arson orchestrated by striking [railway] workers," Mofi said.

"[They] have elected to resort to criminal conduct, which follows very closely on the heels of threats made by the striking workers that they will torch trains."

Mofi said some strike leaders had been dismissed for fraud, theft and non-performance.

"We call on the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) to do the right thing and deal severely with those of their members who have been party to this heinous crime."

Satawu spokesperson Rea Molopyane said union leadership would meet on Thursday to discuss the issue.

"There is a lot more to this than just blaming the union and individuals," she said.

"We will issue a statement once we have had an opportunity to properly investigate and discuss the matter."

  • Sharon - 2012-03-01 14:53

    What is it in the nature of these people that makes them so incredibly destructive? If they HAVE to strike, do it, but for heaven's sake leave the matches at home. Don't they realise that their employer now has to replace what they destroyed, which makes their demands even less likely to be met?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-01 14:56

      This has been instilled into them from birth, watching their parents rioting.. They know no other way.

      Bardy - 2012-03-01 15:06

      @ Sharon - I ask myself the same question. Why do they do this? This is not human like. Where does this uncivilized behaviour come from? Are they not aware that by causing damage to their employers property that their salaries might be affected? Can you really be that stupid? But then again, if your president sings "umshini wam" on national TV th... Let rather stop before I get angry!

      J-Man - 2012-03-01 15:20

      Ja nee.... the mind boggles.

      Gustav - 2012-03-01 15:42

      funniest thing... 2day they torch the trains and 2morrow they wait for that same train that they torched yesterday, but then they cant understand why the train is not arriving... funny, isn't it?

      cwboshoff - 2012-03-01 15:43

      Locked up my @ss, put them out of their misery, as they are clearly suffering from no-brain disease.

      kaMazibuko - 2012-03-01 16:16

      U racist they u mean blacks? Remember the damage protesters in London and Greece caused ?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-01 16:18

      It's like punching a door - the door doesn't punch back.

      Sharon - 2012-03-01 16:24

      @ KaMazibuko - "they" = strikers. But if the shoe fits....

      cwboshoff - 2012-03-01 16:35

      WTF.... I got edited for calling kaMazibuko a dumb@ss because he put the "race" card in play!!! Just so you did not miss that, kaMazibuko you're a dumb@ss playing the race card! By "they" we mean the strikers/people making crap or whatever you'd like to call them, we don't care about their race! Let's see if this one sticks!

  • KallieHungBal - 2012-03-01 14:56

    I hope they have enough evidance to put these "people" away for a long time. Chances are they will walk away free or with a suspended sentence.

  • Craig - 2012-03-01 14:58

    Charge the unions, they started the strikes it is their responsibility to ensure that their members behave themselves.

  • mary.kircher - 2012-03-01 14:59

    the strikers responsible for this should be arrested for sabotage - they were fired for fraud, theft and non-performance and they cause R38 million rands worth of damage ! We need to get rid of the Unions!

  • elphaas.mgiba - 2012-03-01 15:00

    they must burn Lucky himself and leave the commuters.

  • Mark - 2012-03-01 15:01

    WTF If spoornet can only get there act together so train wont be late this might also not happen.Everybody needs to get to work on time but no African time is more important.Their workers get away with murder due to being late so trains dont leave in time to be on time and people are getting fed up so wawawa!

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-01 15:25

      Huh? Could you try that again, in English this time.

      HiJack - 2012-03-01 15:41

      I suspect this comment was made more by iMark than Mark...

      Marion - 2012-03-01 15:43

      @Mark - I used the trains for many years doing round trip between Springs and Johannesburg. The trains were often late. We did not burn them. We got irritated and angry but we did not destroy the only transport we had to get too and from work. We were regularly stranded on the railway line for hours at a time. What has changed now that makes it okay to burn trains?

  • Andre - 2012-03-01 15:03

    And after tomorrow they strike because the trains arrived late or were full!

      Samantha - 2012-03-01 15:14

      they will strike because there arent enough trains!- (and forget that they just burnt 6 )

  • Shirley - 2012-03-01 15:03

    This is the norm. The unions allow such behavior and blame it on "outside force". This mob mentallity is tolerated every strike and unions laugh all the way to the bank!They didnt pay for it so why should they care. This is the selfish nature of all strikers. The other vandalism is plain tsotsi behaviour by thugs! Throw the book at them!

  • John - 2012-03-01 15:03

    "The poor" are just pulled in everywhere, aren't they?

  • Kala - 2012-03-01 15:05

    It's not only an attack on the poor and the middle class. Those damages get paid for by every tax paying citizen in this country. The Unions need to be held financially accountable for damages caused by their members. We know they have the money, just go look at COSATU'S new offices. Must have cost millions.

  • Samantha - 2012-03-01 15:15

    I could never understand why they have to burn the very things they need- trains, schools.... and then complain that there are no trains and no schools !!!!!-

  • braamc - 2012-03-01 15:36

    Because they must always behave like savages

  • cwboshoff - 2012-03-01 15:40

    It is time employers take harsh action, more and more these hooligans want unreasonable increases and benefits in a struggling financial time, tell them there's no money because of these "terrorist" actions, and then start laying them off, lets see how they survive with NO MONEY! The employers MUST have rights too... If there's no money then there's no money, end of story!

      cwboshoff - 2012-03-01 15:53

      How do the guys that were fired get back on to the premisis without anyone noticing, where are the security guards, or are they part of the striking force! I think the employers should cut of all communication with the unions until they have paid for all the damages, and also let them know that if the remaining strikers don't return to work on Monday they will be out of work! Stop screwing around, throw the book back at them like I mentioned in the original post, they must have some rights too... Who fights for the employer?

  • ramila.thobye - 2012-03-01 15:45

    Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) should take SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu)to court and Satawu be held liable for the damages. this all unions will teach their members that going on a strike does not mean going on a rampage and distroy...

      Peter-Peter - 2012-03-01 16:05

      Good luck with the saying goes, "You take girl out of the trailer park, but not the trailer park out of the girl"

  • sikhumbuzok - 2012-03-01 15:52

    Why do we black ppl take 2 the streets demanding a better pay then trash the work or infrastructure by our corrupt cadres. We knw very well that it will take yrs before its replaced. Why do march for jobs or so called economic freedom yet wen we have a job that outs food on the table we defecate in it and strike illegally for 3 weeks and employer begs us to go back to work and still we refuse. Then why do we march for services and still destroy in process we demanding services. Is it me being offside or do we not want to progress and uplift ourselves from poverty thru hardwork and yes wit sacrifice. Coz the guy in range rover as much as he looks happy and smug he or she works hard for it. Even if he stole the money to buy it he shivers everytime he hears THULI MADONSELA or tax man. Why?

      Marion - 2012-03-01 16:05

      In South African context one could say 'black ppl' (mainly cause I can't recall an instance of a white, indian or asian group doing this, but I could be wrong). However, internationally it is people of all races, shapes and sizes who do exactly the same. What is their common mentality?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-03-01 16:20

      @Sikhumbuzok, look at Greece, Spain and UK to see white people doing the same...

  • Jeffrey - 2012-03-01 16:36

    we can just pretent like it has nothing to do with us until we the situation is out of order. I see acts rebels clouding SA. the government, Union and other stakeholder are very relaxed. I think we need to come with a body that will regulate possible salaries of private sector that will do so with serious judicial power guided by cash flow of company. this will also help to discourage CEOs get 100 times salary of the juniour level workers.

  • btnkabinde - 2012-03-01 16:56

    south africans are lazy, they are used to spoonfeeding and toy toying. carry zuma and spoil them. they are good in torching equipments but bad in standing up and doing work with their hands.

  • Marnus Lamprecht - 2012-03-01 17:05

    In a country with as much unemployment as ours it is hard for me to understand why people are not just thankful to have the opportunity to go to work. Instead they moan, complain and strike at any given chance. All of that doesn't contribute to the financial situation of our country and the barbaric acts of vandalism and plundering just adds to the negative impact. If you are not happy in your employment rather just leave and let somebody that is willing to work have the opportunity, and then after living on a grant for a while you may reconsider you attitude.

      Ben - 2012-03-01 17:29

      Remove the Unions.

  • Liz - 2012-03-01 18:37

    "Three of them had been caught vandalising critical safety infrastructure, he said, adding that this kind of intentional sabotage endangered commuters' lives." It IS sabotage and should be treated as such by the courts - why should commuters lives be put at risk by these criminals?

  • tshepokealogile - 2012-03-01 20:18

    Ag man. Grow up. If the arrested idiots are positively linked to this crime and convicted in a court of law and lastly are in the employ of Metrorail, they should lose their pension fund. This would serve asa BIG deterrent to woud be strikers with a criminal intent.

  • hadedah - 2012-03-02 08:10

    All I can say is that the Railways have deteriorated to such an extent that hardly any long distance trains run no goods services if there are the get goods stolen from them. BRING BACK THE RAILWAY POLICE AS IT USED TO BE AND TAKE THE SAPolice OUT OF ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE SAFETY OPERATION OF THE RAILWAYS. Let the Railway police control the security of the harbours and of the airports. That way things will inprove. The railway police should never have been disbanded. a stupid political move.

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