Saboteurs set train alight

A Metrorail train was set alight at the Nyanga station on Wednesday morning and strategic communication lines across the city’s railway network were damaged before rush hour.

Metrorail said later that it had identified staff as being behind the blaze, in which two carriages were gutted. No one was injured.

The fire department and the police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Metrorail also implicated staff in Wednesday’s cable sabotage and similar sabotage over the weekend that crippled the city’s train network earlier this week.

On Monday, multicore cables were hacked to pieces in what Metrorail said was an orchestrated and strategic sabotage on the eve of a strike by their employees.
On Wednesday morning trains across the city were delayed after eight separate incidents of vandalism to communication cables.

Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott said the company had not been able to run a full service on several lines.

Monday’s sabotage affected Metrorail’s north, south and central services, with repair work in Nyanga carrying on late into the afternoon.

The first wave of sabotage came on the eve of Tuesday’s strike by some Metrorail staff. The strike did not affect commuters.

On Wednesday morning workers and commuters ran for their lives just after 8.30am when two carriages on a train bound for Mitchells Plain caught alight.

Officials quickly unhooked the burning carriages from the rest of the train to prevent the flames from spreading.

Burnt plastic sheeting and newspapers were found close to the door of another carriage. It is suspected saboteurs tried to start a second fire in that carriage.

Fruit and vegetable hawker Adam Palm, who witnessed the blaze, said it looked like it was “straight out of a movie”.

“The fire was coming out of the windows. Thankfully there was no one in the train,” he said.

Medical receptionist Pumeza Yola said she was looking through the Nyanga Junction shopping centre windows, which overlook the platform, and saw the carriages engulfed in flames. “People were panicking and some were running.”

Fire department senior communications officer Sharon Bosch said three water tenders and a rescue vehicle had been sent out. It had taken about two-and-a-half hours to put out the blaze.

Metrorail regional manager Stephen Ngobeni told a press conference in Bellville on Wednesday that the rail operator had identified employees as being behind the fire attack and the cable sabotage.

Ngobeni said Metrorail had forwarded a list of names to police.

Police spokesman Superintendant Andre Traut could not immediately confirm any arrests on Wednesday.

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