Informal Settlers Attack Newclare Station in Johannesburg

Pretoria - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) boss, Lucky Montana, has condemned the vandalism of Newclare station, near Westbury in Johannesburg, this morning.

According to media reports, a crowd of more than 200 people believed to be from Kathrada informal settlement in the west of Johannesburg, went on a violent protest at Newclare station. Two vehicles were torched in the incident.

Montana said they would not tolerate the looting and vandalism of Prasa's property, which took place under the guise of a service delivery protest.

"What we have seen today at Newclare is completely unacceptable and it is a pure act of criminality. There is absolutely no excuse for it.

"The protest was about service delivery and had nothing to do with Metrorail's train service. This unbecoming community behaviour is really worrying as it negatively affects commuters, employees and has resulted in damage to our properties, which will cost millions to rebuild," Montana said.

"We condemn these acts of vandalism on the railway line at Randfontein. One commuter suffered minor injuries to the eye."

The protest started in the early hours of this morning and resulted in the death of at least one person, who is yet to be identified.

Montana has called on Prasa's protection services to protect the agency's assets at the station.

Meanwhile, Metrorail in Gauteng has suspended the train service between Randfontein and Johannesburg until further notice. It has warned commuters to exercise caution and vigilance.

Damage to the entire station is estimated at R6.5 million.

Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Human Settlements MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, has also expressed his concern over the destruction caused by violent protesters.
"This type of lawlessness, violence and destruction is totally uncalled for and is condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said.

He said he remained willing to listen to and engage the community as a way to resolve whatever problems that may have resulted in the protest action.