A new mobile railway police station has been launched to curb crime on trains travelling between Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape.
The mobile police station, which includes holding cells, a charge office, a bathroom, two bedrooms with bunks, and a kitchen, will move with the train on the main line between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
There are only two other such carriages in South Africa travelling on the main lines in the Western Cape and Kwa-Zulu-Natal.
The mobile police station is one of the concepts police have launched in an attempt to stop attacks on railways and ensure fast response to crime on board the trains.
The police’s Rapid Rail Police unit will man the coach and are mandated to monitor and combat rail related crimes including attacks on commuters, drug smuggling and other crimes.
Rapid Rail Police will ensure optimal police visibility in the rail environment through the deployment of police officials in line with the expectations and needs of the commuters and stakeholders.
The coach was donated and equipped by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) who are working with police to clamp down on railway related crime.As the train pulled into the Port Elizabeth station on Friday morning, several excited police clapped their hands.
Visibly excited commander Colonel Elias Senatle, who is in charge of the Eastern Cape police railway unit, said the coach was a welcome initiative and would change railway policing.
“This is a huge asset to us. In the past we would patrol the train and make arrests but there is nowhere to detain the suspect. We would then have to guard the suspect until the next stop where the suspect can be transferred to the police station. The coach also doubles as a visible policing initiative,” Senatle said.
“We have found that if people are aware that several police members are on board, they are less likely to commit crime – knowing that they would get arrested.”