The night rail commuters found a platform to vent their anger
THE roar of hundreds of angry Metrorail commuters echoed through Cape Town Station as I entered on Monday evening.
It was a long and cold day and I could not wait to get home, to a hot bowl of chicken soup.
As I entered the station and walked to platform 16 with the hope of catching train number 9577 to Kapteinsklip, the platform was packed with angry commuters.
There was no train. No worries, I thought. This was the norm. It is seldom that I get to the station and actually catch a train on time. But nothing could have prepared me for the mayhem which was about to erupt as I positioned myself between fellow commuters. People who, like me, were hopeful a train would appear.
Suddenly I heard someone shouting my name. It was a friend of mine who was waiting for train number 9577. He told me: “The train on platform 15 has been standing for three hours, man”.
Suddenly, I heard over the rumbling of hundreds of inconvenienced commuters: “Attention all commuters, please note that there is a regional delay of 60 minutes, due to technical difficulties on the Cape Flats, Monte Vista and Central lines. Metrorail apologises for the inconvenience.”
Three hours on and that was all we got.
That was when I decided to find alternative transport. But a group of protesters filled the station and within seconds there was pandemonium and cries of anger.
I watched as a man used a stool to bash the window of Metrorail’s main office before being joined by fellow protesters.
The angry crowd broke the reinforced glass and started looting shops in the station.
Vodacom was the first to be hit.
Despite a police station on the premises, no officers were present. Just after 7pm, the looters shouted that the police had arrived but this was to clear the shop from being looted, so there was more space grab things and make a run for it.
The protesters soon set their sights on a neighbouring shop, MTN, but three armed police officers arriveds.
They called for backup and tried to grab looters but were pelted with anything protesters could get their hands on.
Police in squad cars were sent to calm the crowd, but this only inflamed the situation.
Eventually ,after 9pm, I was on the N2, on my way home. A massive black cloud hung over Cape Town station.
The protesters had begun burning trains.