From the news desk

Over 100 people awaiting trial for rail-related crimes in WC

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While Metrorail often gets flack for long delays, it wants commuters to know that it is cracking down on criminals who contribute to the setbacks by targeting infrastructure.

Western Cape Metrorail manager Richard Walker said they were seeing the results of additional security measures and forensic capability instituted in March this year.

Since then, more than 100 people have been taken into custody and are awaiting trial for rail-related crimes.

Vandalism and cable theft

According to the entity, its multi-functional security teams’ daily arrests have begun to slow down incidences of vandalism and cable theft.

These teams focus on specific priorities and are made up of Metrorail Protection Services, contracted security and forensic individuals, and the Rapid Rail Response Unit.

Provincial police and other law enforcement authorities are also involved, depending on the intervention required.

Walker acknowledged the success of tip-offs.

A R25 000 reward has been offered for people who provide information that lead to successful convictions.

Last week, police officials and the City’s metal theft unit (copperheads), in conjunction with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), targeted five scrap metal dealers and a recycling depot adjacent to the Mitchells Plain railway line.

No stolen property was found. The officers then conducted several foot patrols in different areas, including railway sites.

Two men nabbed

Two weeks ago, police officers arrested two men – one was in alleged possession of a firearm and the other allegedly had a knife. It is further alleged that the men harassed commuters in the vicinity of the railway line in Somerset West.

Residents had complained that an armed man threatened them and robbed them of their personal belongings.

A dedicated enforcement unit, focusing on keeping commuters and infrastructure safe, should soon be up and running, thanks to a memorandum of agreement signed by the City of Cape Town, Prasa and the Western Cape government in May.

Items seized during arrests relating to criminal activity affecting Metrorail. (Supplied)

At the time, the parties said it would cost around R47.9m for the unit to be set up and operated for 12 months.

This would be funded by the Transport Development Agency, provincial government and Prasa.

Read: IN DEPTH: Inside Metrorail’s cable theft and commuter crisis

“The unit will consist of at least a hundred members and will focus on commuter safety as well as vandalism and the theft of crucial Metrorail infrastructure and assets,” transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said in May.

“The unit’s members will rely on technology and crime intelligence, and will support the South African Police Service to identify those who are involved in the illicit metals theft industry.”

Herron said the ultimate goal is to address the safety and security issues in order to stabilise the urban rail service in the short term.

The City will take charge of appointing and training the law enforcement officers, while Metrorail will choose 50 members of its protection services to be trained in peace officer, traffic warden and tactical street survival skills.

[Source: News24]
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