‘Shoot, but not to kill’ quip by Mbalula angers DA at Cape Town central line’s partial reopening

'Shoot, but not to kill' quip by Mbalula angers DA at Cape Town central line's partial reopening
'Shoot, but not to kill' quip by Mbalula angers DA at Cape Town central line's partial reopening

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula came under fire for remarks he made during the partial reopening of Cape Town’s crucial Central Railway Line.

Mbalula on Tuesday suggested the police should “shoot, but not to kill” people who set up shacks on the line.

“I came here to tell you we have the land for the people of Langa. There are other parcels of land, and I know that there are people that are going to try and come here [to the line],” he said.

He added:

Mbalula’s comments raised the ire of the DA, whose provincial leader, Tertuis Simmers, said the national minister’s reckless instruction to police officers to shoot people on the railway line was unacceptable.

“Not only was the reopening a complete disaster, since the train was delayed and then got stuck between stations, but Mbalula’s reckless instruction to police officers to shoot people on the railway line is nothing short of criminal.

Simmers asked:

Simmers demanded the minister retract the statement and apologise to the public.

“He should rather focus on his job and ensure that, when he opens railway lines with such fanfare as on Tuesday, that the trains are actually working properly,” he said.

In response to the DA, the transport department said it was rather opportunistic of the DA to seek to rubbish the progress made in the reconstruction and recovery of the central line.

“The suggestion that Minister Mbalula called for the shooting of homeless people who illegally occupy land is an embellishment of the minister’s remarks, who made no such call,” it said.

The department said Mbalula’s comments were in relation to ensuring that the land parcels secured to accommodate those being relocated from Langa must not fall foul of illegal land occupations.

Cape Town’s Central Line partially resumes, Mbalula warns Prasa to maintain services ‘or else…’

“The statement by Tertuis Simmers is out of tune with this cooperation. His statement exposes his desperation to appease the DA Federal Leader, Helen Zille, who threw the first stone on the matter from the comfort of her home.

“Neither Tertuis Simmers nor Helen Zille were at the event, yet they arrogate themselves the right to speak on behalf of those who have been working with us to ensure successful resumption of the services,” the department said.

The central line has been closed since 2019 due to theft and vandalism, forcing hundreds of thousands of train commuters to find alternative modes of transport.

It is a crucial railway line servicing commuters from both Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. The line extends from Cape Town Station to Kapteinsklip in Mitchells Plain, and Chris Hani Station in Khayelitsha.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) had been working with the City of Cape Town, the Housing Development Agency (HDA) and the Department of Public Works, among other stakeholders, to remove people who had illegally built shacks on and along the central line in Langa, as well as Eerste River.

Mbalula said the HDA identified land for the relocation of illegal settlements on the Langa rail reserve, which can accommodate over 1 700 households and estimates to relocate over 1 245 households from Langa by 30 November 2022, at a cost of approximately R102 million.

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