Rail Enforcement Unit nabs cable thieves, robbers

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The Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) has made nine arrests, conducted 79 inspections and issued fines to the value of R3 800 last week, according to the City of Cape Town.

The arrests were made for transgressions that included attempted robbery, possession of presumed stolen property, cable theft, malicious damage to property and assault on a peace officer.

The REU was launched by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande in October 2018. The unit provides an additional 100 law enforcement officers to the existing security personnel to help meet Metrorail’s security challenges.

The security challenges include sustained attacks on rail infrastructure and rolling stock assets, the sabotage of the urban rail network, and criminals targeting commuters and rail employees.

The REU is jointly funded by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

“While we welcome the additional arrests of perpetrators of cable theft and vandalism, not a single scrap dealer or bucket shop owner has yet been arrested. These are the brains behind a thriving largely cash-based industry that abuses the dire circumstances of individuals for their own profit,” Metrorail Western Cape Regional Manager Richard Walker said in a statement on Sunday.



The city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase, said the inspection of 79 hotspot areas and scrap yards is commendable.

“This sends a strong message to those dealing in scrap metal that we’ll take action against dealers who’re selling stolen infrastructure that is needed to operate our urban rail service.

“Our urban rail system is Cape Town’s most valuable public transport asset. We’re working with our partners to get the rail service back on track, and I want to assure commuters we will succeed,” Purchase said.