#UniteBehind Media Statement: #UniteBehind encourages FEDUSA’s July 26 mass action.

Media Statement: #UniteBehind encourages FEDUSA’s July 26 mass action.

On Friday, July 26, FEDUSA will be having a mass action on rail in a call for safer trains. We encourage people to participate in the action, even as we do not support their call for SANDF to be deployed at all stations. We welcome that they have adopted our demand for commuter rail to be declared a National Disaster.

We understand and sympathise with the call for the army. For far too long our communities have been plagued by crime and fear. People do not feel free, even in their own homes. Just this weekend, a police officer lost his life in a shootout with gangsters in Delft. Gangsters run our communities and our streets have turned into a war zone. Train drivers fear for their lives every day. The deployment of the army into communities is a manifold failure of government. We have been denied safety and professional, demilitarised and competent policing. The failure of the state is compounded by the failure of corporations and businesses to engage and generate employment.

However, the call for the army is an attempt at a quick fix. There may be a role for the army to guard fixed assets, develop protection strategies and to train protection officers. These are desperate times, but we resist the impulse to deploy the army in civilian spaces without a proper plan for their scope of action.

We remain united in our commitment to #FixOurTrains, and to improve the conditions of life for the poor and the working class. 

#UniteBehind continues the call on the Presidency; the Department of Transport; the Passenger Rail Service of South Africa (PRASA), the operators of Metrorail; the Railway Safety Regulator; and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to take immediate action, including:

• Declare rail a National Disaster to unlock dedicated resources;

• Replace and repair old, broken or stolen infrastructure and equipment, such as railway tracks, signalling equipment and unsafe and outdated train sets, and in particular to bring back into working order the 2,000 carriages that are sitting idly.

• Only employ trained, registered, equipped and accountable security and safety officers;

• Arrests, prosecutions, jail, and the state must reclaim our stolen assets from the corrupt agents and enablers of state capture – Jacob Zuma, Lucky Montana, Mario Ferreira, Makhensa Mabunda, Sfiso Buthelezi, their many gangsters, as well as international companies that have profited from our impoverishment;

• Safe trains for all with a focus on safety for women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Government must give attention to safe public transport with a focus on women and children;

• Safe working conditions for all PRASA workers;

• Extend monthly tickets to be valid for two months while trains are on time less than 85% of the time. #DelayRepay

For more information contact Zukie Vuka at 065 822 5962

#UniteBehind is a coalition of people’s movements joined by legal, policy and research organisations working for a just and equal society where the people share in the country’s wealth and our environment is protected for future generations.