The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has been rocked by a bizarre incident, in which members of its own Protection Services Unit were arrested for trying to rob the agency’s head office Prasa House in Hatfield, Pretoria, on Wednesday.
Police confirmed yesterday that 14 members of the unit, some with firearms, were arrested at the offices after tying up two security guards in their guard room and demanding the keys for the agency’s Toyota Quantum minibuses.
According to an internal source at Prasa, security guards were in their guardhouse around 2am when they heard a hooter at the main gate on Burnette Street. One of them went to check and a VW Polo was at the gate.
“The guard recognised the driver of the vehicle as he works for Prasa,” the source said. “He opened the gate and as the car drove in, a gang stormed in, with some scaling the perimeter wall. They grabbed the guards and tied them up using their shoelaces. They took their cellphones and demanded keys to the vehicles.”
The gang, who had their faces covered, then proceeded to the building but security guards in the vicinity who spotted the commotion had already called police. Brooklyn police swiftly arrived and nabbed the gang.
The source said: “They claimed in their police statements that they were conducting an operation, as security guards were sleeping on duty while assets were stolen. But strangely, police took a statement from their boss Francois van Eeden [head of security for rail operations], who denied authorising any operation.”
The source added that there were more than 200 new vehicles parked at the premises. Police spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach said when they responded to a report about a business robbery in progress on the Prasa premises, they found the Prasa employees on the premises. Weilbach said the employees produced their employment cards and said that they were simply checking up on the security personnel.
The suspects, aged between 28 and 51, were mostly from Soweto. The suspects will appear today in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of attempted business robbery.