Prasa to steam ahead with fencing, eviction drive

Prasa is appointing a legal team to handle evictions, and it is finalising a tender for fences and walls along it three key commuter lines in Cape Town, according to the parastatal’s regional manager, Raymond Maseko. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says it is moving ahead with plans to take back its land from squatters.

The parastatal is appointing a legal team to handle evictions, and it is finalising a tender for fences and walls along its three key commuter lines in Cape Town, according to Prasa regional manager Raymond Maseko.

He said Prasa had approved a budget for the current financial year for a pre-cast concrete wall to protect the central line and steel fences and concrete palisades to protect its southern and northern lines.

Various barriers were being used to meet the different risks that faced each of the three rail corridors, he said.

“Concrete palisade, steel mesh or palisade – none of those will work on the central line. What we think is going to work is the wall that we piloted in Nyanga,” he said.

The parastatal planned to work closely with community police forums and neighbourhood watches in future, to help protect railway land and property, especially at night, he said.

Mr Maseko was speaking, on Wednesday July 12, at the Alphen Centre, where officials from Prasa and Sub-Council 20 and the City met to discuss safety and security and growing squatting on railway land. The meetings are held every one to two months.

Within Sub-council 20, portions of Prasa’s southern line that have been included in the fencing tender include Wynberg to Wittebome, and under the M5/Prince George Drive bridge, which falls in between Ottery and Southfield railway stations.

Ward 63 councillor Carmen Siebritz said the fencing requirements extended further than the bridge.

“We have more fencing now that is also missing along the railway from Ottery station all the way down to Southfield station,” she said.

It was important to cover the M5 bridge with the fencing programme because while the area under the bridge had been cleaned up, the squatting and littering that had been a problem there would return if it was not adequately fenced, she said.

Following the meeting, Mr Maseko said Prasa’s fencing tender would be changed to include the full extent of the line from Ottery to Southfield, and he stressed that the M5 bridge was included in the programme.

The tender for the fencing programme was likely to go out by the end of July or the middle of August, he said.

“We should see the contractors up on site at the beginning of October of this year,” he said.

In the meantime, a legal team is set to be appointed in the next two weeks to start applying in the Western Cape High Court for eviction notices to be served on squatters occupying Prasa land across the province, according to Neil Engelbrecht, assistant manager of real estate asset management at Prasa.

“The process is going through the last hurdle,” he said.

Ward 62 councillor Emile Langenhoven said he had called on the public to gather information and affidavits that could help Prasa make its case for evictions.

The Wynberg Improvement District’s Deon Manuel said they had started asking business owners for those affidavits, but the response had been very slow.

Mr Engelbrecht said the affidavits would “definitely assist the eviction application”.