19 June 2017

South Africa: Train Vandals Must Be Treated Like Murderers, Rapists and Treasonists - Union

Photo: Jerry Chifamba/allAfrica.com
Damaged train at Woodstock Train Station, Cape Town (file photo).

People caught vandalising transport infrastructure deserve to spend the rest of their lives in jail, the United National Transport Union (Untu) has said. This comes as vandalism caused delays on Metrorail's Cape Town commuter lines on Monday morning.

"Untu has no choice but to demand from the legislature to impose life imprisonment for these crimes - similar to that imposed for offences of premeditated murder, gang rape, serial rape and treason," said Steve Harris, Untu general secretary.

Untu said the serious damage to the economy and the risk to people's lives that flows from continuing vandalism and theft warrants stricter sentencing, however felt magistrates seem loathed imposing the maximum sentence of 30 years that the Criminal Matters Amendment Act allows.

On Monday morning Metrorail in the Western Cape again reported delays of up to 50 minutes due to vandalism.

The transport company said last week it was already down 66 coaches since March 2016, which hampers its ability to provide its usual service."The result is that the situation has completely gotten out of hand. Our railway lines have become a war zone, but our criminal justice system simply turn a blind eye," says Harris.07:41 #CentralLineCPT Trains are delayed due to vandalism at Nyanga, Langa, Sarepta and Lavistown. Delays of 40-50mins-- Metrorail W/Cape (@CapeTownTrains) 19 June 2017

The latest incidents include:

- Railway tracks stolen on the line between Machadodorp and Carolina on Saturday causing a derailment;

- Two weeks ago, cable theft contributed to two Metrorail trains colliding near the Elandsfontein station in Gauteng. One commuter was killed and over 50 were injured;

- In March, sleepers were stolen from the tracks between Cullinan and Pretoria, leaving nearly 500 people stranded;

- Eight coaches were set alight at Cape Town station last Monday due to an electrical fault;

- Last Thursday a coach was set alight at Muldersvlei near Stellenbosch;

- Last Friday a coach was torched near Koeberg railway station.

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