PARLIAMENT, October 9 – Western Cape police have confirmed that several people are being questioned in connection with an arson attack on two trains at the Cape Town station on Tuesday after five carriages were destroyed.
Spokesman Andre Traut said no arrests have been made at this stage.
The affected trains were standing on platforms 17 and 18. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but platforms 13 to 21 remained closed due to a smoke hazard, according to Cape Town Fire and Rescue.
The fire broke out at the same time as Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board and management members were briefing MPs at a nearby hotel about arson attacks on rail infrastructure and other problems that have beset the country’s railway service.
During the meeting, MPs from Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport could be seen passing their cellphones to show each other images of the dark plumes of smoke coming from the station in the Mother City CBD.
As the Prasa team was briefing MPs, committee chairwoman Dikeledi Magadzi informed Transport Minister Blade Nzimande, who is also present at the briefing, that another fire was reported at the busy CBD station.
Prasa board chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama confirmed the incident, telling MPs the reason she looked “upset” was that she had just received a message that “platforms 16 and 17 are burning”.
The last fire at the station was just over a week ago, which brought rail services to a halt.
Kweyama told MPs: “I’m forced to say that we can’t exclude the fact that there is sabotage in the system…ex-managers are unhappy and disgruntled about the manner in which they have been handled. There is a lot in the system that there are enough people who are unhappy that are trying to destabilise the system.”
According to Cape Town Fire and Rescue’s Ian Schnetler, two trains “consisting of three carriages per train” were alight and firefighters were waiting for technicians to “isolate power”.
– African News Agency (ANA)