South Africa

Nine bust for stripping railway infrastructure in Cape Town

Nine bust for stripping railway infrastructure in Cape Town

Cape Town's rail enforcement and metal theft units have embarked on a crime-fighting spree along the city's besieged railway lines, arresting nine suspects since Monday.

They pounced on suspects who allegedly stole railway infrastructure including overhead contact cables which provide electricity to trains, railway signalling cables, and pandora clips which hold railway tracks together.

Two of the suspects were arrested early on Monday after officers were tipped off that they were driving a white hatchback and trying to sell 96kg of overhead cable to a scrap metal dealer in Epping.

The officers also discovered the vehicle was stolen. 

Cape Town law enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said the replacement cost of the cable was R26,100 excluding labour costs, but the scrap value was around R7,200.

On Monday afternoon the same team arrested six people - three males and three females - for allegedly stealing 150m of railway signalling cable between the Woltemade and Mutual train stations in Epping.

"They observed movement inside a trench and started monitoring the suspects from a distance. The suspects then became aware of the officers and fled. The officers had, however, closed off all escape routes and after a short search they found them hiding in reeds along the railway line," said Dyason.

The team then followed up on information about firearms kept in a shack at Maitland Cemetery's main gate. 

"Upon searching the shack no firearms were found but officers discovered 36 packets of tik, six mandrax tablets, and R880 hidden in the shack. The suspects, a male and a female, who were found in the shack were charged for dealing in drugs and possession of drugs," said Dyason.

On Tuesday morning rail enforcement unit officers arrested two suspects in Epping with pandora clips hidden under a pile of scrap metal in the back of a bakkie.

"They asked the driver to empty the contents loaded in the back of the vehicle and discovered pandora clips or ''pigtails'," said Dyason.

"These items are used to keep the railway tracks in place and are attached to the railway sleeper. Without these clips the trains could derail, causing loss of life and extensive damage to train sets," said Dyason, adding that the suspects were detained by police.