The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has urged the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to ensure the safety of train operators on Cape Town’s central line by deploying armed guards on trains – or face closing the line.

This follows two violent incidents last week, and the death last month of train driver Pieter Botha, 46, who was robbed and shot at Netreg Station.

UNTU executive council member Brian Davids said: “If PRASA cannot secure the railway line and with the assistance of SAPS make an end to this crime spree, then the Central line must be closed.”

He says a train guard was attacked by a passenger on Saturday while security guards failed to intervene.

The night after that, the train guard gave the driver three bells at Nolungile Station, the driver discovered that the guard was being held at gun point.

This incident led to the suspension of the train service.