Train station burnt and railway lines sabotaged

Attack on Metrorail infrastructure coincides with termination of security contracts

Photo of burned station

Maraisburg train station in Johannesburg was burned on Monday night. Photo supplied by a PRASA employee.

By GroundUp Staff

19 November 2019

On Monday night Maraisburg train station in Johannesburg was burnt and on Tuesday morning Park Station was vandalised. A disturbing video posted on Facebook shows men pulling down pylons and placing them across Metrorail lines.

A Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (PRASA) statement said: “According to security personnel stationed [at Park Station] a number of criminals forcibly entered the station attacking and looting some of the shops, breaking glass access gates, tickets windows and cars. More alarming however was the stoning of one of the train sets resulting in a broken windshield.”

These acts of vandalism coincide with PRASA’s attempted termination of security contracts, which would have put many security guards protecting the railways out of work.

Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, PRASA CEO, said: “PRASA will increase security at the station along with police presence. PRASA will not allow itself to be harassed by criminals. We have the necessary security personnel to ensure such an incident does not repeat itself again.”

But on Tuesday morning, Judge John Hlophe in the Cape High Court cast doubt on the assertion that PRASA has enough security. “The problem is there is no provision for the interim to protect the thousands of commuters every day,” he said.

Hlophe ordered PRASA to continue the security contracts until the new tender is finalised, or until alternative measures are in place including an interim security plan within the month. Whether this will bring the vandalism to an end, at least temporarily, remains to be seen.

The Gauteng High Court on Tuesday also ruled that PRASA must reinstate the services of the security companies which had been operating, ordering PRASA to give a calendar month’s notice before terminating their contracts.