Umlazi train station attacked / Photo via Twitter: Yusuf Abramjee @Abramjee

Watch: Angry Durban commuters burn train carriages and cars [video]

Commuters went on the rampage when trains arrived late.


Umlazi train station attacked / Photo via Twitter: Yusuf Abramjee @Abramjee

A large group of disgruntled train commuters descended on the Umlazi ticket station, just outside of Durban, and proceeded to burn train carriages and cars in a show of frustration.

Sowetan Live reports that local law enforcement agencies are currently engaged with the protesters and are attempting to quell the violent uprising. Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, regional spokesperson for the South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed that community members attacked the station on Friday morning, setting four vehicles alight, torching train carriages and vandalising municipal structures.

Watch: Disgruntled Umlazi commuters attack train station

According to Zwane, commuters became irate due to operational delays, which caused tensions to flare and violence to erupt. Zwane confirmed that police were still on the scene, which remains tense, saying:

“More than 1 000 commuters at Umlazi railway station became angry due to late arrival of trains and they damaged the ticket office‚ set alight four cars and damaged a motor-train coach‚ causing extensive damage to property.

Public Order Policing unit members and metro police have been summoned and they are monitoring the situation. It is still tense‚ but police are monitoring.”

The station which was attacked by commuters is the last stop on the line and is situated between Dingani and Ngwele. According to eyewitness reports, the attack centred on the ticket office and then spread to the trains and staff vehicles parked near the station.

South Africa’s trains under attack

This latest wave of public violence affecting rail infrastructure comes after similar protests in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

The City of Cape Town has been especially hard hit by vandalism and arson, losing an average of over 50 train carriages a year to nefarious acts. A recent spate of burnings has left MetroRail services in the city on the verge of collapse, with less than 50 trains left to service the community.