Cape Town – If South Africans lived in a true democracy, President Jacob Zuma and those involved in state capture would have already been prosecuted, activists said on Thursday.
"[If we lived] in a state that was kind to its citizens or, in the very least, cared about the Constitution, we would be able to take the people at Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), the officials of Metrorail and bring them to book using the courts," Equal Education's Noncedo Madubedube said.
Madubedube was addressing roughly 400 people gathered in front of Cape Town's central train station in protest of Metrorail's deteriorating service and to call for Zuma to be arrested.
Wednesday marked the deadline by which Zuma had to submit reasons to the National Prosecuting Authority on why he should not be prosecuted for 783 counts of corruption.
"The state has forsaken its people," Madubedube said to cheers from the crowd.
Together with activists from umbrella organisation Unite Behind, Madubedube conducted a mock trial for Zuma because "the state has clearly failed to do so".
Three hours to travel 12km
On Thursday morning, News24 shared stories of Cape Town Metrorail passengers who in some instances take three hours to travel 12km by train.
Byron Erisben from Manenberg said he was afraid of losing his job because of the continued delays to Metrorail's service.
"I am getting warnings after warnings because I have the same story every day, saying the trains are late...the trains are late," Erisben said.
"It's like they don't believe me anymore at work but it is the truth that I am talking, the trains are late – you know what I am saying?"
'A crime against the poor'
At the gathering at the train station on Thursday, City of Cape Town MMC for urban development Brett Herron promised to escalate the City's interventions to address the railway crisis.
After taking Metrorail trains on Thursday morning, Herron said he was "absolutely shocked" by the conditions commuters had to endure.
"It is a crime against the poor and we have to do something," Herron told News24.
He said he planned on taking the business community on a train ride early next week after which a public meeting would be held to plan the next steps to address the crisis.
The City of Cape Town recently voted to conduct a feasibility study into taking over control of Metrorail in the city, but Herron said the City could not wait for an 18-month study to be concluded.
"Obviously we need to know what we get ourselves into before we take it on... but in the meantime, we need an urgent intervention because people cannot travel the way they are travelling now," Herron said.