Disarray at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has become so desperate that the Gauteng Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) have called for the arrest of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, saying that he must be held accountable for the service’s collapse.
Train services across the country have come to a grinding halt, with only seven of Metrorail’s 34 commuter lines currently in operation. Despite having dubbed himself “Mr Fix-it” when the transport portfolio was handed to him in 2018, Mbalula has yet to restore the defunct service to any semblance of functionality.
Large-scale looting of rail infrastructure, acts of arson that have left carriages and entire train stations destroyed, and occupation of rail tracks by illegal land occupiers are just some of the issues currently plaguing Prasa.
MKMVA said on Sunday that Mbalula’s arrest is one of several demands they are set to make of government when its members march to the African National Congress (ANC) headquarters and the Gauteng premier’s office on Monday 12 October.
“Among other issues, the march is focusing on the plight of the poor and forgotten freedom fighters, rampant corruption in the country, the demand for the arrest of apartheid killers, the arrest of transport minister for the damaged railway network, the plight of truck and taxi drivers, crime and gender-based violence,” they said in a statement.
The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) of Gauteng, the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) Gauteng, and the SA National Cargo Transport and Drivers Association (SANCATDRA) are set to join the march and voice their grievances al0ngside MKMVA.
Last month, Mbalula introduced the Prasa Security Plan that aims to bring criminals to justice through intelligence-driven security drives. During the launch of the cooperative plan, he said that “the prevalence of crime in our rail environment has reached alarming levels
“Theft and vandalism of critical infrastructure… this has dire consequences not only on those who use the rail services, but also on our economy.”
Just a handful of arrests have been made relating to the crimes being committed against Prasa and its rail network. Mbalula has described the incidents as “economic sabotage”.
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