CAPE TOWN – The City of Cape Town’s rail enforcement unit (REU) made 424 arrests in the past financial year.
The REU is a pilot project funded by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works and the City of Cape Town.
In a statement released on Thursday, the city council said its REU stopped and searched more than 37 000 people and conducted more than 4 000 patrols in hot spots.
More than 2 000 metres of stolen copper and aluminium cables were recovered.
Alderman Felicity Purchase, a member of the mayoral committee for transport, said the memorandum agreement between local government, the City and Prasa ended on June 30.
She thanked all REU officers for their service and contribution and said she believes the unit made an impact.
Purchase said she would continue liaising with Prasa and other stakeholders regarding the possibility of reviving the unit.
Over the past two years, said Purchase, the REU had been a force multiplier for Prasa’s regional metro protection services unit. Together, the teams ensured greater visibility on trains and stations and more individuals were searched in joint operations, during which a larger number of dangerous weapons and fake and old train tickets were confiscated.
She said some of the REU’s duties included supporting the South African Police Service (SAPS) in identifying criminals involved in the metals theft industry and the closure of “bucket shops”, where the stolen metals are sold.
Apart from the arrests, which included charges of assault, armed robbery, possession of drugs and stolen property, theft and malicious damage to property, the unit registered 269 cases of which 109 were in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, and 467 operations were conducted within the rail environment.
Purchase said officers formerly part of the REU will now form part of the City’s rural safety unit, while the remaining officers may be considered for future enforcement projects.
African News Agency (ANA)