24 April 2019

South Africa: Unpacking Easter Sunday's Train Arson in Cape Town


Cape Town's first train fire in six months occurred on Sunday afternoon -- confirmed by Prasa to be an arson attempt -- just two weeks before the elections. One person has been arrested by the police, but officials have blamed 'sinister forces' and national government for another attack on Cape Town's vulnerable rail network.

On Sunday 21 April 2019 a fire swept through Platforms 13 and 14 at the Cape Town station and destroyed two much-needed coaches. In the aftermath, political parties and government officials have played the blame game over which "sinister force" was behind the arson. One person has been arrested and is due to appear in court soon.

The last train fire occurred in early October 2018 -- while Parliament's Transport Committee held a meeting to discuss precisely that -- train fires and arson at Metrorail, a subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). Between 2015 and 2018, there were 175 train fires in Cape Town. Sunday's fire brings that number to 176.

What happened on Sunday 20 April?

According to a statement from Prasa, a fire at the Cape Town station was reported to have started just before 4pm on Easter Sunday, effectively...

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