Train driver stabbed

Metrorail is offering a reward of up to R25 000 for information leading to the conviction of three men who robbed and stabbed a train driver near Kraaifontein station.

The 59-year-old driver is recovering from stab wounds to his buttocks.

The driver climbed out of his cab to investigate when the train broke down between Kraaifontein and Muldersvlei, at about 7.40am on Monday April 9.

It was then that three men attacked him and stole his personal belongings.

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker condemned the attack.

“Our driver was taken to a nearby clinic for medical treatment and discharged soon afterwards – he is recovering at home, we wish him a speedy and full recovery.”

He said: “Metrorail employees are instrumental in delivering an essential public service to the thousands of commuters who depend on trains as their primary means of transport.

“The attack is totally unacceptable and Metrorail Protection Service will liaise with provincial SAPS (including the Rapid Rail Response Unit) to develop mitigating crime prevention strategies.”

Mr Walker urged witnesses or anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

All information would be treated in the strictest confidence.

Provincial police spokesman

Captain FC Van Wyk said the three attackers had threatened to stab the train driver with a knife if he didn’t hand over his belongings.

Then after they had taken what they wanted, one of the men had stabbed him in his left buttock.

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant said the incident reaffirmed the need to improve rail security – currently the focus of the Rail Management Task Team, which was set up as result of the City of Cape Town’s Rail Summit held in February.

The task team has members from the Western Cape government, the City, the private sector, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and its commuter service arm, Metrorail.

The team, said Mr Grant, had met in late March to look at how to raise R45 million to train and deploy extra security on the rail network for a year. The team hoped to deploy the extra security by the middle of the year.

“While we look at ways to improve security in the rail network. We must also continue to take a stand against criminal elements that hold public transport operators to ransom. These elements threaten the provision of safe and reliable public transport for the thousands that rely on it on a daily basis, which is completely unacceptable.

“This latest attack is another sign of the dangers that Metrorail employees face when criminal elements penetrate the rail network with the intention to cause harm. These acts of criminality must be condemned by us all, and effectively investigated by the SAPS to ensure that these criminals are brought to justice.”

Transport and urban development Mayco member Brett Herron said the City was ready to plough R16 million into the enforcement unit plan discussed at the Rail summit. And Prasa’s acting CEO of rail, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, had committed to contribute a further R3 million a month to the City “to further enhance enforcement capacity at Metrorail”.

United National Transport Union (UNTU) spokeswoman Sonja Carstens said a spate of recent attacks on rail networks had become “alarming” and “a 59 year old man is suffering with stab wounds to his buttocks and is still traumatised by the incident”.

Untu, she said, wanted security beefed up on all train lines to reduce attacks on staff and commuters.