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Man electrocuted
cable theft

Metrorail has warned residents about the danger of cable theft after a man was killed while trying to cut railway cables near Bonteheuwel station last week.

On Wednesday 12 February, the rail service issued a warning that “traction energy is more potent than domestic energy”.

This means that an electricity grid for the supply of electrified rail networks can do more harm than domestic energy which is used in the home.

Spokesperson Riana Scott said the incident happened in the early hours of the morning. “An alleged electrocution near Bontheuwel station was reported to us at approximately 01:00 this morning. Bishop Lavis police have opened an inquest docket and the incident had no impact on the morning service.

“Despite the central service being suspended, all the infrastructure remains live. Communities adjacent to railway lines are advised to be particularly vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to any of the reporting numbers.”

In a previous interview, Scott said factors which contribute to cable theft include vagrancy, drug abuse, unemployment and illegal electrical connections.

“None of these are Prasa or Metrorail issues yet have significant impact on the train service. Until these issues are adequately resolved by the appropriate agencies, no security strategy or resources will be totally effective. We collaborate and share resources in a united fight against the scourge of crime, gangsterism and damage to essential infrastructure.

“Criminals are not born and bred within rail precincts, they spill over from surrounding areas where communities live in fear of retribution to the point where they hesitate to expose criminals in their midst so the cycle continues,” she added.

Bishop Lavis police spokesperson WO Joseph Swartbooi said officers received a complaint about a body hanging on top of the electricity structure.

“When officers arrived, an arrangement was made for the removal of the body to be certified. Police specialist units were requested to visit the scene of crime. The deceased was later identified by a family member as a 27-year-old from Bramble Way in Bonteheuwel.

“Station commander Christopher Jones is encouraging the community to refrain from damaging an important infrastructure that is supposed to be to the advantage of the residents,” said Swartbooi.

An inquest docket has been opened.

Rail Enforcement Unit records success

Between 27 October 2018 to 31 October last year, the City of Cape Town’ Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) recovered R400 000 worth of stolen cable and arrested 238 suspects.

A statement by the City of Cape Town, said successes include:

  • 29 767 stop-and-searches conducted on trains, platforms and at stations across Cape Town;
  • 416 operations within the rail environment;
  • 2 225 m of copper cable impounded;
  • 865kg of stolen metal impounded;
  • 2 471 inspections of hot spot areas and scrapyards;
  • and the confiscation of various dangerous weapons and equipment used for vandalising and stealing rail infrastructure, including hacksaws, spades, cutters, knives, screwdrivers, hammers, crowbars, blades and scissors. 

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the presence of the REU has made an impact.

“But the harsh reality is that it will take time and more resources to deal with those who are vandalising and destroying our rail network while we are working hard to stabilise the service.”

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