South Africa: Prasa's Burning Question


In the two years between 2017 and 2019, arson cost Metrorail more than R360-million. The big question is, what can be done to prevent future arson attacks, especially in Cape Town, which has been hardest hit?

In August 2018, former Western Cape Member of the Provincial Legislature Nceba Hinana laid a complaint with the public protector, asking Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate the causes behind "the myriad failures of Metrorail in the Western Cape, under the mismanagement by the Ministry of Transport and Prasa. Metrorail in the Western Cape continues to suffer from inadequate infrastructure, safety concerns, and delays and cancellations."

Hinana described Western Cape trains as "fatally unsafe" - no surprise, as at the time train fires were almost a weekly occurrence.

"Public Protector, I call on you to investigate how under the leadership of [former Transport] Minister [Blade] Nzimande, our trains continue to burn and how our railway line cannot even function at minimum capacity," wrote Hinana to Mkhwebane.

The public protector's Western Cape office accepted the complaint and a senior investigator was assigned to the case. In May 2019, when asked by Daily Maverick for an update into the investigation, Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said, "An update...

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