Saturday afternoon just before sunset an obscure haze with a choking chemical odour cloaked Upper Woodstock and the suburb of Walmer Estate. That it was already 35 degrees Celsius with little wind caused great concern as neighbours did not know from where the acid pungent smell was emanating.

Since then we have learnt that 5 platforms, 10 carriages and 750 metres of wiring have been damaged and that the rail service for the most vulnerable workers will suffer indefinite delays.

In a region that is suffering from severe drought, serious joblessness, increasing food and transport cost and a host of other devastating issues, vandalism on this scale is in reality, an act of terrorism.

No-one benefits from vandalism as those who use the train are mostly the indigent and working class as wealthier commuters access cars and pay fuel costs or live near work. The loss must be repaired costing taxpayers extra and leaving less money for other services such as health-care, housing etc.

Thus those guilty of this specific crime are not average saboteurs or criminals but actual terrorists as they are in reality creating massive distress that impacts the lives of thousands with one act of injury.

Workers, who arrive late at work, now suffer the added indignity of explaining or disrupting their lives by leaving home even earlier. Already a train trip from the farthest townships takes more than an hour. So, if you must be at work at 7am you already leave home at 5:30am walk to the station to get the 6am train. Now you have to leave even earlier even though sunrise is only around 7am. Women and school girls are now within an added zone of danger, all because of one act of arsonist terrorism.

No amount of disparity between railway management and striking unions can justify this act of terrorism which costs millions of Rands and affects hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

In the words of the wise, the terrorists must be caught and a severe public example must be made.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress


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