reward of R100000 in rail arson

Tebogo Monama, Kingdom Mabuza and Sipho Masombuka

Tebogo Monama, Kingdom Mabuza and Sipho Masombuka

Metrorail is offering a whopping R100000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest and jailing of people involved in the burning of trains in Pretoria on Saturday.

Six motor coaches and 18 trailer coaches were set alight by angry commuters after a power failure caused delays in rail transport bound for Mabopane, GaRankuwa, Mmakau and Soshanguve.

The vandalism, which was widely condemned by organisations including Cosatu and the Department of Transport, will cost R150million to repair.

The carriages were completely destroyed as firefighters were prevented from extinguishing the flames.

Metrorail spokesman Pule Mabe said Metrorail wanted to set up a commission of inquiry with the Rail Safety Regulator to "ascertain whether all measures were taken to avoid the incident" and to avoid future occurrences.

Mabe said: "The reward we are offering is not going to be able to account for the losses that we have incurred."

He said it would cost R150million to repair the six damaged trains and R2,5million to restore the damaged power lines.

Mabe said Metrorail's chief executive, Lucky Montana, had met the mayor of Tshwane, Gwen Ramokgopa, to discuss a joint task team that would look into an operational plan to find ways of accommodating 40000 and 50000 commuters who daily rely on the train services.

Cosatu urged Metrorail to do everything possible to get trains back to normal in Pretoria.

"We condemn the action of people who burnt public property, but we also urge Metrorail to look into improving the level of service and safety to commuters," said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.

He said Cosatu hoped that the closing of the lines was not a form of punishment to commuters, but to enable Metrorail to do urgent repairs.

Department of Transport spokesman Collen Msibi said the government strongly believed that the decision to suspend trains was motivated by compelling reasons.