Government says it will no longer tolerate the destruction of property and infrastructure such as trains – calling this economic sabotage.
In response to the destruction, government will put in place an integrated intelligence driven, multipronged intervention which will be rolled out starting with the priority hotspot areas and where there are genuinely sustainable interventions that require consolidation.
“Government calls on members of the public to be vigilant and work with the police when they have suspicions regarding cable theft and destruction of trains,” said Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane on Tuesday.
Government’s outrage comes after the burning of two Metrorail trains that were torched on Tuesday while stationery at Germiston Station on platform 3 and 8 respectively.
“Government condemns and will act on all acts of violence and destruction of property. The destruction of these trains is an act of economic sabotage and has affected about 5000 commuters.
“It further has a significant impact on the business sector which in turn affects the economy; infrastructure expenditure, and the timely operation of services,” said Mokonyane.
The cost of the damage incurred in this incident is R6.5-million and government will not allow this to continue, said Mokonyane, adding that such criminal acts deter the country’s drive to strengthen the economy and goes against government policies.
“Cable theft is also a serious matter affecting the rail sector and economic growth. This element of delinquency costs the country billions of Rands each year which affects essential services and robs ordinary citizens and the working class of their right to basic services.”
Mokonyane said it is unfortunate that this incident took place at a time when authorities are working to turnaround the commuter rail system.
Trains are a critical infrastructure and key assets of the country and transforming rail infrastructure will have a direct impact on the country’s key industries.
“Rail transport has over the years unlocked economic, social, and cultural doors and have connected South Africans from various parts of the country,” the Minister said.
In addition to the trains, Mokonyane also condemned in the strongest terms the destruction of state property in the Amathole District Municipality where protestors demanding jobs set alight the councillors chambers, Amahlathi municipality’s main office and the Amahlathi municipal accounts office.
Mokonyane said the destruction of infrastructure is not reflective of how citizens in a democratic state should engage on challenges.
She said these acts fly against the genuine calls of a responsive and caring government and undermine the government’s commitment to take services to historically disadvantaged communities.
Mokonyane said a safer environment can be realised by working together as government, labour, civil society and business.