The United National Transport Union (UNTU) would like to express our utmost gratitude to the Community of Delmore/Knights in Germiston on the East Rand.

They apprehended suspects who stole zinc plates from the roof of the Knights Station.

The thieves threatened the community before members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) arrived at the scene to apprehend them.

This comes a week after members of the Kliptown Community in Soweto gave the SAPS a tip off which resulted in the arrest of two Cable thieves being caught red handed while vandalizing Prasa’s infrastructure.

“UNTU want to thank each South African who takes it upon him or herself to assist in protecting this vital state asset, our passenger rail system. Prasa’s passenger trains is the cheapest form of public transport in the country on which millions of workers really to get to and from work.

“The Union believes that the individuals in these communities are the unsung heroes in our society. They are preventing and combatting crime, the statutory duty of the so-called Rapid Rail Police Unit of the SAPS that are nowhere to be seen,” says Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU.

The infrastructure of the Knights Station has been destroyed in recent months after the disbanded Board of Prasa decided to terminate the contract of private security companies nationwide who were guarding Prasa’s assets.

Bongisizwe Mpondo, Administrator of Prasa, promised UNTU on 17 January 2020 that new security companies would be appointed to replace them at the latest by the end of March 2020. This has not materialised to date.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has repeatedly admitted that Prasa’s Protection Services, who are unarmed, cannot fight the battle against heavy armed syndicates targeting the railway infrastructure alone, says Harris.

UNTU has repeatedly called on the SAPS and on the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to ensure that these suspects are charged and prosecuted in accordance with the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015.

The Act is aimed at essential infrastructure-related offences and to regulate the imposition of a discretionary minimum sentence, which creates a new offence list relating to the essential infrastructure and assisting with the prevention of organised crimes.

The Act states that any person whom unlawfully and intentionally tampers with, damages or destroys essential infrastructures; or colludes with or assists another person in the commission, performance or carrying out of an activity whom knows or ought reasonably to have known or suspected that it is essential infrastructure, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a period of imprisonment not exceeding 30 years or, in the case of a corporate body, a fine not exceeding R100 million, says Harris.

“The Act has not been a deterrent for rail related crime because suspects are not prosecuted and sentenced accordingly. UNTU is not aware of any accused who was found guilty of the vandalism of the railway infrastructure who has been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment to date,” says Harris.

 Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Deputy-General Secretary: Media, Liaison and Communication. For UNTU press releases phone Sonja on 082 463 6806 or e-mail sonja@untu.co.za.


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