After months of talk, they are finally here, the bumped-up security detail being put in place to protect the infrastructure and trains of South Africa’s railways. There will be at least 3,100 of them in identified hotspots, and some of them were out marching in Rhodesfield, Johannesburg, today (see video).
Introducing a new security plan to protect the Passenger Railways Association of South Africa, PRASA, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula had a special warning for scrap metal dealers and purveyors of secondhand goods. Cable, railtrack and infrastructure theft from PRASA has decimated a once strong network.
“These people create the market for the proceeds of crime. We will uproot those who continue to buy these stolen goods,” Mbalula said. (See video below of scrap metal dealer being bust.)
The Minister has presented a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach plan that involves other government departments in the justice, safety and security cluster.
Fulfilling undertakings by the Minister to protect PRASA infrastructure against unprecedented levels of vandalism. pic.twitter.com/zVR8kPY5i6
— 𝙼𝙴𝙳𝙸𝙰 𝙻𝙸𝙰𝙸𝚂𝙾𝙽 | 𝙴𝚜𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚞 (@EsethuOnDuty) September 16, 2020
The new security plan launched today in conjunction with other law enforcement ministries would include not only the new insourced security guards but the HAWKS, the National Prosecuting Authority, Metro Police and the Railway Regulator.
“This is an intelligence-driven plan that will enable us to find these criminals wherever they hide. We will equally increase the visibility of the SAPS and protection services officers at identified hotspots,” the Minister said, adding that special attention had to be paid to the scrap metal industry and second-hand dealers.
PRASA protection officers raid a scrap dealer in Kempton Park where they found stolen rail infrastructure.#FixingPRASA #Mbalula @GovernmentZA @Dotransport @EsethuOnDuty @MbalulaFikile @SAPoliceService pic.twitter.com/5i1y9lji6P
— PRASA Group (@PRASA_Group) September 16, 2020
“Theft and vandalism of critical infrastructure on our railways not only place the lives and livelihoods of those who rely on trains in danger, and it has dire consequences for the economy,” Mbalula said.
With government tightening its grip in fighting this scourge, the Minister has called for prosecution-guided investigations and adherence to the principle of opposing bail.
“There will be no mercy for criminals who think they can continue stealing and vandalising public assets with impunity. We will throw the book at them and ensure they are charged with economic sabotage,” Mbalula said.
– Additional reporting by SAnews.gov.za