MEC MUST EXPLAIN UNLAWFUL GAUTRAIN DETENTION

Dr. Neil Campbell, DA MPL

DA Gauteng Transport Spokesperson

According to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces Gautrain security officials do not have the power or jurisdiction to detain individuals on the rail network. This follows on the recent report of two women being detained by Gautrain security at the Sandton station last week for chewing gum.

Bombela, the Gautrain Operating Company, claims that Gautrain guards have special powers of arrest, and that under the Control of Access to Public Premises and Vehicles Act, travellers can face a fine of R2 000 or two years imprisonment for contraventions of the Act.

Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi must explain which legislation is invoked to grant these special powers of arrest. The MEC and Bombela must also demonstrate that the security officials on the project are properly trained peace officers duly authorised to arrest a citizen for a non-schedule 1 offence, such as chewing gum.

The DA believes that the Gautrain as public property must be protected. However, we also believe that citizens have basic constitutional rights, which include the right to be treated fairly and an arrest must be in line with the nature of the offence the person has committed. Although placed in a position of responsibility, Gautrain Security personnel should not become a law unto themselves and overstep their authority. This is inconsistent with the tenets of a free and democratic society.

MEC Vadi must ensure that the necessary controls and procedures are instituted to ensure that the rights of Gautrain users are not infringed. The role of the security officials and the relevant legislation must be clarified and adequately communicated to the public. It should be easy for commuters to understand the rules and their responsibilities when using the Gautrain.

The MEC must also engage with Bombela to ensure that water can be taken onto the Gautrain, as it cannot cause a sticky mess like gum, and may be medically necessary. This is especially important in the light of the stranding this week which saw commuters stuck in stuffy conditions without water.

The DA believes that is possible to find an amicable solution which will suit everyone and keep the Gautrain operating at the highest standards.

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