Cape Town's new Rail Enforcement Unit hits the ground running, makes first arrest


One hundred members of the new Rail Enforcement Unit began their maiden voyage at Cape Town train station on Monday.

During a short trip to Salt River station, News24 witnessed the unit in action as they made their first arrest when, what appeared to be tik, was discovered in a commuter's bag.

The unit will play a critical role in safeguarding the rail infrastructure and the commuters, mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said during the unit's launch.

"The announcement and launch of the unit over the last few days is a major milestone for Cape Town and indeed the country," he said.

"Although we often talk about the importance of inter-governmental co-operation, it is rare that we in fact, see this demonstrated in practice."

Cape Town's new rail enforcement unit is deployed

Cape Town's new rail enforcement unit is deployed for the first time. (Christina Pitt, News24) 

In May 2018, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government signed a memorandum agreeing to the establishment of the unit.

Plans for the unit hit a snag when it was reported that Prasa had failed to honour the agreement by not paying their R16m share in September.

The rail agency quickly recommitted to the memorandum and the contribution was paid.

"The City and province are spending money on assets that are not theirs. One hopes that no one feels the need to commission multi-thousand-page investigative reports into such unusual expenditure," Herron joked.

"Quite frankly, in life it is really more important to be honest, morally correct and ensure the protection and good functioning of our city."

Mayoral committee member for safety and security J

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith accompanied the rail enforcement unit on their first patrol. (Christina Pitt, News24)

Prasa regional manager Richard Walker said the inter-governmental co-operation was a "watershed moment" and congratulated all parties involved.

MEC for Transport Donald Grant also acknowledged the importance of the deployment.

The future economic success of this region depends heavily on a stable and sustainable rail network, he said. That starts with enhanced security, he added.

"Having visited offices while they were on training last month, I believe the work put into this pilot project to increase Metrorail's security contingent is a necessary step towards improving passenger rail functionality and effectiveness."

Following the launch, Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith enthusiastically accompanied the new enforcement officers on their first patrol.

"This deployment will not be enough, but it is an important first step. Hopefully, we can look back and say that was the turning point in the road," he said.

"Our staff will deploy from Maitland, but for the interim they will deploy from the Cape Town station. I just want to wish our officers good luck."

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