People caught vandalising transport infrastructure deserve to spend the rest of their lives in jail, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) has said. This comes as vandalism caused delays on Metrorail’s Cape Town commuter lines on Monday morning

“UNTU has no choice but to demand from the legislature to impose life imprisonment for these crimes – similar to that imposed for offences of premeditated murder, gang rape, serial rape and treason,” said Steve Harris, UNTU general secretary.

UNTU said the serious damage to the economy and the risk to people’s lives that flows from continuing vandalism and theft warrants stricter sentencing, however magistrates seem loath to impose the maximum sentence of 30 years that the Criminal Matters Amendment Act allows.

On Monday morning Metrorail in the Western Cape again reported delays of up to 50 minutes due to vandalism.

The transport company said last week it was already down 66 coaches since March 2016, which hampers its ability to provide its usual service. “The result is that the situation [is] completely… out of hand. Our railway lines have become a war zone, but our criminal justice system simply [turns] a blind eye,” says Harris.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

07:41 #CentralLineCPT Trains are delayed due to vandalism at Nyanga, Langa, Sarepta and Lavistown. Delays of 40-50mins

Metrorail W/Cape (@CapeTownTrains) 19 June 2017

The latest incidents include:

– Railway tracks stolen on the line between Machadodorp and Carolina on Saturday causing a derailment

– Two weeks ago, cable theft contributed to two Metrorail trains colliding near the Elandsfontein station in Gauteng. One commuter was killed and over 50 were injured

– In March, sleepers were stolen from the tracks between Cullinan and Pretoria, leaving nearly 500 people stranded

– Eight coaches were set alight at Cape Town station last Monday due to an electrical fault

– Last Thursday a coach was set alight at Muldersvlei near Stellenbosch

– Last Friday a coach was torched near Koeberg railway station