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Train robbery erupts in more havoc

An attempted robbery on a train ended fatally when one of three suspects was shot dead.

The incident then sparked further chaos after the train was set alight while Mbekweni police officers were busy investigating the murder scene on Friday 28 September.

A 16-year-old suspect, Zubenathi Mfanta from Silvertown in Mbekweni and two of his “fellow mischief makers” tried to rob commuters on the train just before Mbekweni station.

Mbekweni police spokesperson Sergeant Nceba Vanqa said that according to eyewitnesses on the train Mfanta and his fellow robbers threatened a victim with a knife on the train and wanted to rob him.

“The victim then produced a firearm and fired two shots, hitting Mfanta twice in the head,” says Vanqa. The other two suspects fled the scene.

With the arrival of Paarl ambulance services Mfanta was declared dead at the scene. Police are investigating a case of murder, but no arrests have been made yet.

As police were conducting their investigation at the scene, the body of the deceased still in one of the carriages, the train was set alight.

“We were waiting for Pathology Forensics to collect the body, when we heard the commuters screaming that ‘the train is burning’,” said Vanqa.

First a front carriage was set alight and then a second one started burning.

The Drakenstein fire department responded quickly and managed to douse the flames before they spread further.

This is the second case of arson in one weekend in the Drakenstein area. On the Friday evening before the long weekend, a train was set alight at Huguenot Station in Paarl.

It is not yet known whether the shooting and the fire are related. No one has been arrested yet.

Anyone with further information about the three suspects and the arsonists can contact the Mbekweni police on 021 868 9900 or on 021 868 9926. All information is handled confidentially.

Riana Scott, Western Cape spokesperson of Metrorail, said the commuter rail service was investigating the fire. “All reported incidents are investigated to establish patterns, trends and hotspots, which assists with proactive deployment of resources,” she explained.

The Western Cape spends more than R220 million annually on protection and security. Additional short-term measures are demanded by the spiralling crime trends, particularly the metro south-east (additional armed escorts for employees, night patrols with armoured vehicles, drone surveillance and forensic services) required special additional funding.

These interventions are funded by a finite operational budget derived from a diminishing fare box and government subsidy.

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