The announcement that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) will insource 3,100 security officers is a welcome — though overdue — first step towards refounding the SA Railway Police, which former president PW Botha abolished in 1986.

The next step is to note that the old railway police totalled 16,000 service personnel, not a mere 3,100. There is no indication that the Prasa rail enforcement unit will deploy drones and thermal cameras, but even if it did the situation demands the return of all 16,000 guards in the current situation of high copper crime.

In addition to those 16,000 guards, the railways also used to employ linesmen patrolling the tracks. The recent theft of tracks means there is an urgent need to bring back the linesmen. The future of the working class, and much of the middle class, depends on rail commuter transport being revived.

Keith Gottschalk

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