The night rail com­muters found a plat­form to vent their anger

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LELAND ED­WARDS

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.

Leland Ed­wards

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