Metrorail trains torched

Frustrated commuters smashed the turnstiles at the Pretoria station on Tuesday evening, claiming Metrorail had not informed them of train delays. Photo: Metrorail

Tshegofatso Ngobeni

A man was arrested on Tuesday evening for allegedly torching a Metrorail train at Bosman Station, police said on Wednesday.

Damage of about R13.7 million was caused, said central police spokesperson captain Augustinah Selepe.

A 38-year-old man was arrested and detained at the police station.

“The man was arrested for malicious damage to property. He will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday,” Selepe said.

Commuters pointed him out as the one who torched the train.

“It was a crime allegedly committed by commuters but through our investigations, we found that this man was the one who started [the fire]. Our investigations are ongoing.”

Selepe said police were patrolling the near the area to ensure that calm was restored.

Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said two separate trains were pelted with stones earlier on Tuesday. Businesses operating at the station and ll turnstiles were vandalised.

“At the time of the incident early Tuesday, a train that was to depart to Johannesburg was delayed for approximately 30 minutes,” she said.

“Commuters were kept informed of the delay through the public address system right throughout that period.”

She said four people were arrested on the scene and investigations were continuing.

“Four suspects have been arrested at the scene. The torching of these coaches puts more strain on operations more especially on the availability of train sets,” Mofokeng said.

Mofokeng said three Metroplus Express coaches and two Business Express coaches were set alight.

Some commuters said the arson was a result of frustration caused by a train delay.

“The train was supposed to leave [for Johannesburg] at 18:15 but it was delayed to 19:30. Commuters got agitated when Metrorail staff told them, the trip would be cancelled and burnt down the train,” said a commuter.

Mofokeng denied this.

“The train was delayed by about 30 minutes and commuters were kept informed through the public address system,” Mofokeng said.

She condemned the arson and urged commuters to report crime to law enforcement agencies.

Commuters should listen to announcements as there would now be changes in travel schedules, she said.

According to media reports, train services in Springs, Dunswart and Daveyton were suspended yesterday because of violence against Metrorail staff.

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