Monday, 12 June 2017
Angry commuters torch trains, loot, at Cape Town station
Two trains were set alight and shops looted at Cape Town station on Monday night, when commuters went on the rampage in reaction to lengthy delays.
“Two trains are on fire. At this stage there are no injuries,” said City of Cape Town fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne.
Police were on the scene and helping to keep protesters at bay while the firefighters tried to douse the flames. He said the station was not on fire, as some people had tweeted. The smoke was so thick that firefighters had called a truck with special breathing equipment to the scene.
The chaos started early in the evening, when passengers became increasingly irate over lengthy delays, which Metrorail attributed to an overloaded electrical system. By 21:00, the concourse was littered with glass and broken dustbins that had been thrown in a rage. Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott explained that Metrorail had four 11kV power feeds available to operate the train service. Between 15:00 and 19:00, two of the four feeds were unavailable. The two remaining ones were overloaded, the electricity supply tripped, and trains all over the network were halted, some for over two hours.
The trouble started while technicians were working on the problem.
“Hundreds of irate customers converged at Cape Town Station and some shops were damaged and looted,” said Scott.