Neels Blom Writer at large

Commuting by rail is dangerous. No one disputes this, but the response by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), its Metrorail units and the South African Police Service to what has developed into a full-blown rail commuter crisis has not alleviated the problems. This is especially evident in the Western Cape. The official reasons for the crisis have been varied, but common throughout is an escalation in crime that includes the theft of railway equipment, vandalism and crimes committed against commuters directly — robbery, assault and murder.Prasa acknowledges "the rise in criminality" and has appealed to the communities it serves to help prevent crime and to identify perpetrators. These communities, too, will ultimately decide whether the state-owned entity has done enough. Part of what might bedevil Prasa’s efforts is the degree to which it accepts responsibility for security. In Metrorail’s defence in the court action brought in 2001 by the Rail Commuters Action Group and other...

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