A firefighter from Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) in East London sustained seven knife wounds and a head injury when three armed robbers attacked him and another firefighter.
The two men were putting out a fire at Panmure station when they were attacked.
“I thought it was the end and I will never see my family again. It was terrible, ”Louis Myburgh, 56, a member of the United National Transport Union (Untu), told Steve Harris, the union’s general secretary.
Myburgh and his colleague, Len Martens (46), reacted on Saturday when a fire broke out next to the station. The fire broke out when unknown individuals set fire to the dry grass next to the train station.
The two men put out the fire while Myburgh kept the control room of train operations up to date.
Myburgh, the president of the Tribal Cats Bikers Club, also had to investigate the number of pole posts damaged after the fire. “We saw there were no security guards at the station,” Myburgh said. “We have continued with our work, because I have to submit a comprehensive report. When we wanted to return to our vehicle, three men surrounded us. One was armed with a firearm, the other with a dagger and the third person with a paring knife. “
The men motioned for them to hand over their cellphones. “Give me the phones and your wallets, or we’ll kill you,” said one of the armed robbers.
Martens did not have his cellphone with him, but Myburgh must carry a cellphone belonging to TFR with him so that he can make contact with the control room.
Myburgh told Harris Martens had tackled one of the robbers. He started fighting with the other two and ended up on the train tracks. “Martens was able to break free and ran away to seek help. The third robber then also started beating me. “
Martens was able to stop a police vehicle in the road. When police arrived at the scene, the robbers ran away with Myburgh’s cellphone and wallet.
“It was the most traumatic experience since I started working for Transnet 39 years ago,” Myburgh added. “It is very disturbing. We currently have very few staff and we need to be on standby throughout. I can not even remember when I last spent time with my family. ”
Martens has been working for Transnet for nine years.
Harris said the incident was another example of the devastating impact of the “poor decisions” that the former board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) had on railway infrastructure. “Railway infrastructure is being targeted nationwide by criminal and organized crime syndicates who know it is a soft target, because no more security guards have been deployed to protect the assets.”
Although numerous promises have been made to Untu that 3 348 officers of the South African Police Service’s railway unit have been deployed nationwide to combat crime, they are still nowhere to be seen. “Once it is election time, there are many promises from politicians about how they will provide safe and reliable trains, but the reality is that there is no political will to improve this national asset to provide cheap transport for commuters,” Harris said. added.