Untu welcomes Ombud’s finding that WC police fail to prevent train arson attacks

The Western Cape Police Ombudsman found that the police were only able to arrest juvenile suspects for the burning of the trains thus far, with no link yet to any adults or organised groups.

Officials assess the damage of a train fire at Glencairn station on 7 October 2019. Picture: 1 Second Alerts

CAPE TOWN –The United Transport & Allied Trade Union has welcomed the findings of the Western Cape Police Ombudsman that found that the South African Police Service (Saps) was unable to prevent arson attacks on trains.

In November last year, MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz requested an investigation following a spate of attacks on railway infrastructure in the province.

Since 2015, more than 140 carriages have been destroyed in the province.

The union, which has been vocal over the past few months about arson attacks adding that government is not doing enough, participated in the investigation.

Untu's Sonja Carstens said: “We have been saying that the police are incapable of adhering to their mandate when it comes to railway policing. We have a dedicated railway policing unit in name, but it means nothing in practice.”

In the ombudsman's findings, it noted Saps management and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) must have realised there were some inefficiencies in railway policing when they signed a memorandum of understanding last year.

It found that the police were only able to arrest juvenile suspects for the burning of the trains thus far, with no link yet to any adults or organised groups.

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