The United National Transport Union (Untu) has urged Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to ensure the safety of train operators on Cape Town’s central line by deploying armed guards on trains – or face closing the line.
The call comes following two recent violent incidents on the rail line, and the death last month of 46-year-old train driver Pieter Botha who was robbed and shot twice in the head.
Untu executive council member Brian Davids said: “If Prasa cannot secure the railway line and with the assistance of the South African Police Service (SAPS) make an end to this crime spree, then the central line must be closed.”
Davids said there was an attack on a train guard by a passenger on Saturday, during which the employee was assaulted while security guards on the rail line viewed the attack but failed to intervene.
According to Davids, the night after that, the train guard gave the driver three bells at Nolungile Station and as the train driver went to investigate the reasons for the alarm bells, he discovered that the guard was being held at gunpoint. This incident led to the suspension of the train service.
“Since the death of Botha, Untu has demanded a meeting with the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters in order to discuss Prasa’s inability to consider the safety of its employees.”
According to him, staff on trains were in constant fear for their lives and they “are now on the lookout for criminals rather than the focus on the signals”.
He called on Prasa to appoint armed guards on trains.
– African News Agency (ANA)