The Passenger Rail Association of South Africa, PRASA, has indeed suffered a hefty cost from the discovery of an illegal melting factory wherein stolen equipment worth over R2 million was discovered.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula visited the Ratanda RDP house turned into copper melting factory for PRASA equipment on Sunday afternoon, February 9. Three suspects, including a PRASA employee, were arrested and are still on trial.
Speaking to the media outside the house, minister Mbalula says the joint efforts of the police, PRASA security and the community must be commended. “This is a house of crime. These copper cables are meant to connect the railway network. Criminals steal this and bring it to this house in loads, melted and packaged nicely so it can be sold,” he said.
The minister said the suspects must be charged with economic sabotage. “This is not mere theft. This act brings the whole economy into a standstill, workplaces come to a standstill and households suffer,” he said.
According to the department, the arrest was made by PRASA security and police officers, who acted on a tip-off provided by members of the Ratanda community. One of the suspects arrested is a technician working at PRASA rail.
PRASA loses millions of money due to either train burnings,vandalism of power stations, public disorder, train collisions or weather disasters. Last year, the agency suffered an estimated R364 million due to these factors.