Joint forces for community safety, vandalism and theft

The Retreat railway station has become a hot spot for crime.

Felicity Purchase, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport, responded to questions about drug peddling at Retreat station.

She said the Rail Enforcement Unit (REU) had formed a joint partnership with the City of Cape Town, the provincial government and Metrorail to help with commuter safety.

The unit also focuses on vandalism and the theft of Metrorail infrastructure and assets.

Ms Purchase said: “Since the unit’s deployment on October 29 2018 to end-January 2019 the REU has participated in at least 133 joint operations, made 66 arrests and confiscated hundreds of metres of cabling, dangerous weapons and other items in the course of the 11 041 searches conducted.

“The detailed breakdown of the arrests and confiscations will be presented in the six-month progress report to the three stakeholders (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, the City of Cape Town, and the provincial government). Thus, the information you are asking for has not been verified and audited as yet,” said Ms Purchase.”

When asked if the REU will be a permanent unit or will it be in operation indefinitely, Ms Purchase said: “The formation of the REU followed on from a memorandum of agreement between the City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and the provincial government in May 2018 whereby each of the three stakeholders committed to jointly fund the R47.9 million needed to establish and operate the unit for a pilot period of 12 months. The 100 officers that form part of the REU was officially deployed on October 29 2018.”

When asked what the measures will be put in place by the REU to ensure passenger safety and to stop vandalism and other crimes, Ms Purchase said: “It is important to note that the Rail Enforcement Unit assists the existing security services with the challenges the Metrorail service is currently facing. Thus, the REU is a force multiplier and reinforces the need for all law enforcement agencies to fight crime in the rail system together. The Passenger Rail Agency’s Protection Services and the Rail Enforcement Unit work in coordination with the South African Police Service’s Rapid Rail Response Unit.”

Ms Purchase said the presence of the REU in particular, improves crowd management on platforms and helps to enforce discipline on station platforms and trains by permitting only paying passengers access to stations and trains. “This contributes to safe arrivals and departures,” she said.