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Looking at Transnet Freight Rail, the SOE is facing severe security issues. Theft and vandalism of copper cable, tracks, and substations plague the company.
In fact, according to Transnet, from 27 December 2021 to 2 January 2022, it suffered 79 cable incidents and 52 other incidents, including theft and vandalism of other rail infrastructure. During this period, cable loss in metres amounted to 21 222. Yet, only 21 arrests have been made.
As noted by Transnet, this form of criminal activity causes severe strain on Transnet’s rail operations while costing the rail utility and its customers billions in lost revenues.
An example of a recent incident in the KwaZulu-Natal province saw nine men arrested for tampering with critical infrastructure.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala explains that on Monday night, 10 January 2022, police officers from Nottingham Road SAPS were patrolling along Curry’s Post Road when they noticed a suspicious vehicle next to the Transnet pipeline.
The Highway patrol and a private security company rushed to the scene in response to their call, requesting backup.
On arrival, law enforcement pounced on the suspects. Lieutenant Colonel Gwala says, “It was established that the suspects had tampered with the Transnet pipeline and a valve was forced open.”
The two suspects were placed under arrest, with them now facing charges for damaging and tampering with essential infrastructure.
Police also seized the suspects’ firearms and vehicle for further investigation. Furthermore, the suspects appeared in the Howick Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 12 January 2022, according to Gwala.
Natasha Kara, a KZN spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), says the men appeared briefly in court on the day. They were, however, remanded in custody until 18 January 2022 for their bail hearing.
Following the arrest, a security company recovered stolen Transnet Railway lines to the estimated value of R1 million.
Magma Security and Investigation received information on Wednesday morning, 12 January 2022, that three suspicious vehicles were travelling via Umlaas Road from the Richmond area to Durban.
These vehicles were suspected of transporting stolen property, specifically railway tracks, according to the information.
Magma Security personnel responded and observed three vehicles approaching the Umlaas Road intersection.
“The members managed to stop two vehicles. There were two occupants in each vehicle. Members of both vehicles spotted 2m lengths of cut up railway tracks. The suspects were immediately detained.”
The third vehicle, which vanished on the N3 heading towards Durban, was apprehended a few minutes later by Magma Security members.
This vehicle was also carrying cut-up pieces of railway track and gas bottles. There were three suspects in this vehicle.
All seven suspects, as well as the three vehicles, were turned over to SAPS. The security company also assisted SAPS in escorting the suspects to Camperdown SAPS.
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Image: Transnet Freight Rail