Mbalula in ongoing discussions with Cabinet over new Prasa board

While launching the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Ministerial Security Plan on Wednesday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that the he is having discussions with Cabinet over appointing a Prasa board.

The launch of the Ministerial Security Plan follows the appointment and insourcing of 3,100 Prasa security personnel as part of the plan.

The ministers involved in the plan included police, state security, justice and correctional services as well as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

During the media briefing, Mbalula said theft and vandalism on the railway system had dire consequences on the economy and was of great concern.

"Criminals have been in charge here of Prasa and they have been running the show. It's been an inside job. The criminality has undermined our efforts to deliver a service that is safe and reliable," he said.

Mbalula said criminals were making money off the acts of theft and vandalism by melting copper cables and selling them via Mozambique to other countries such as Asia.

ALSO READ: Gauteng Metrorail concerned over cable theft, vandalism amid train service disruptions

The minister confirmed that six men were arrested for being in possession of copper cables and signalling equipment worth over R5.5 million.

"We are pleased that the number of arrests has been steadily increasing in the past few weeks. We will sustain the pressure to ensure that the long arm of the law reaches every corner where these criminals hide.

"While we may not be able to disclose the detailed aspects of the plan [Ministerial Security Plan], we assure South Africans that the plan is robust and will bring to book these criminals who are stealing from the poor," he said.

The Minister has presented a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach plan that involves other government departments in the justice, safety and security cluster.

Fulfilling undertakings by the Minister to protect PRASA infrastructure against unprecedented levels of vandalism.

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He further said that the plan to police and secure the rail infrastructure was anchored on five pillars which included:

  1. Intelligence gathering, analysis and coordination

  2. Proactive approach

  3. Combat approach

  4. Reactive approach through detection

  5. Communication and liaison

READ MORE: Mpumalanga man arrested for stealing R1,4 million worth of train tracks

"This is an intelligence-driven plan that will enable us to find these criminals wherever they hide, in their homes, in their communities, in their workplaces.

"As we tighten our grip in fighting this, our strategy calls for prosecution-guided investigations and adherence to the principle of opposing bail," the minister said.

On the potential new Prasa board, Mbalula issued a warning saying that those found with Prasa's assets would face serious charges.

"I'm going to appoint a board, but they will slow you down. Some of the boards have not helped. They even want to overtake you on your job.

"Prasa has gone down while a board with advocates and doctors were watching."

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