Plea for safer trains after shooting in Cape Town

10 January 2018 - 11:47 By Petru Saal
A security guard was shot dead during an armed robbery at the Chris Hani train station in Khayelitsha on Tuesday evening. File photo
A security guard was shot dead during an armed robbery at the Chris Hani train station in Khayelitsha on Tuesday evening. File photo
Image: Brett Herron via Twitter

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) wants train services suspended on Cape Town’s busiest commuter corridor until the safety of drivers‚ security personnel and passengers is guaranteed.

A security guard was shot dead during an armed robbery at the Chris Hani train station in Khayelitsha on Tuesday evening.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of murder was under investigation after the 50-year-old guard was fatally injured.

UNTU general secretary Steve Harris said more needed to be done to safeguard everyone using the busy central line in Cape Town.

“We request that there be trained‚ armed security on the stations to help prevent an incident like last night from happening again. Not until there is trained security‚ or they are armed‚ are we prepared to work under these conditions‚” he said.

Harris told TimesLIVE that robbers attacked a private security official on the platform just after a train had stopped at the station on Tuesday evening.

“Of the platforms that do have security they are armed with a baton only. That means nothing when dealing with hardened criminals. We have repeatedly said that these are war zones in which drivers and commuters are operating‚” he said.

“The people who are placed at these stations need to be well-trained people and know what to look out for. We are unfortunately in a situation where the criminals have declared war. If you want to fight criminals you need to be well-trained to do so. It is in the interest of the commuters to ensure their safety. Not just our workers. We cannot continue under these conditions.”

Harris said UNTU was the largest union within the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) and represented the majority of drivers‚ technicians and personnel.

“I blame the governance of the day‚ the owner. It is a state-owned entity. No one is taking ownership of their responsibility and this is unfortunately the situation we are faced with. They have appointed a temporary board‚ the new people who have been appointed are people who have little experience on what happens on the ground. All the top positions‚ are people who are acting‚” he added.

Metrorail had plans to erect a security fence worth about R68-million to improve security on the route but Harris was sceptical.

“We aren’t convinced that the wall will be a solution‚ unless that wall is built in a way that makes it impossible to break down. If you look along the highways where similar walls have been built‚ the walls are broken down.”

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker conveyed his condolences to the family of the security guard.

“This incident is indicative of the environment to which our employees and customers are exposed to. Urgent intervention is required to stem criminal activities in the communities. Crime in the area continues to threaten Metrorail’s ability to render a service to commuters.”

Walker said train services on the central line would remain suspended until police had concluded their investigation. 

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