Strategy to protect rail infrastructure bolstered

The government has developed an integrated plan, incorporating all law enforcement and prosecution authorities, to police and secure the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s rail infrastructure.

“The re-imagined safety strategy is built on the foundation of a seamlessly integrated value chain that incorporates all the law enforcement and prosecution authorities and takes a holistic view of safety across modes. These include the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority, Metro Police and the Railway Regulator,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

He was addressing the launch of the PRASA Ministerial Security Plan on Wednesday, which follows the appointment and insourcing of 3 100 PRASA security personnel as part of the plan.

The plan is anchored on five pillars including intelligence gathering, analysis, and coordination; a proactive approach; a combat approach; a reactive approach through detection, and communication and liaison.

“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.

The PRASA Integrated Security Plan has been in operation since mid-August and has already recorded successes.

In August, SAPS and PRASA protection services arrested six men in possession of copper cables and signalling equipment worth over R5.5 million.

“None of our efforts will yield tangible results if we don’t pay closer attention to the scrap metal industry and second-hand dealers. These people create the market for the proceeds of crime. We will uproot those who continue to buy these stolen goods,” he said.

The Minister said the prevalence of crime in the rail environment has reached alarming levels.

“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,” the Minister said.

With the government tightening its grip in fighting this scourge, the Minister has called for prosecution-guided investigations and adherence to the principle of opposing bail.

“This has already proven to be a success in the recent matter of two current and former PRASA employees, who were caught with the rail agency’s assets worth over R2 million. One of the accused, a current employee, was refused bail,” Mbalula said.

The Minister said South Africans must become partners in the protection of public infrastructure.

The plan is a product of a collaborative effort with the Ministers of Police, State Security, Justice and Correctional Services, and the National Prosecuting Authority.

“There will be no mercy for criminals who think they can continue stealing and vandalizing public assets with impunity. We will throw the book at them and ensure they are charged with economic sabotage,” Mbalula said. –

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