The Decline of the South African Rail System by ANC and Black Governing After Apartheid

Executive Summary

  • South Africa’s rail system went into steep decline after the takeover by the ANC.
  • This is leading to a collapse of SA rail.


The ANC made many promises about how it would improve South Africa. Since the ANC has taken over, the infrastructure in SA has been in free fall, with the black management appearing to be unable to do anything by live off of what was created during the apartheid era. One area of infrastructure is the SA rail system.

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Lack of Law Enforcement and Public Safety In Part Due to Decline of South African Rail

Under apartied, the South African police could protect the rail system. However, after several decades under ANC rule, personal safety could not be provided, which led to a steep decline in passengers and passenger revenue.

This video explains that the South African police and the private security firms could not stop the looting of the rail system. 

More on this looting of the SA rail system is explained in the following quotation.

Railway tracks have been stolen all over the country, and there is virtually nothing left of the six miles between Brakpan and Springs, on this line. Rails and ties have disappeared. Overhead power lines have been stolen, supporting poles are bent or broken, security fencing has been carted off in trucks and wheelbarrows. The Springs railway police, responsible for this corridor, doesn’t have a single patrol vehicle. Throughout South Africa, our once world-class railway system is being plundered piece by piece.Most of our secondary roads have become like the rest of Africa: potholes, no shoulder, grass growing into the center of the road. There are small forests, with trees as tall as a man growing out of sidewalks and right up to roadsides. Everyone sees the decay, but the ANC doesn’t seem to care. Someone said they see nothing ugly, and they see nothing beautiful. Years ago, I heard a former Transkei official tell a visiting American that “we don’t care if the roads turn to dust, as long as we get rid of the whites.” Their roads turned to dust. – American Renaissance

An image is taken from the top of the pedestrian bridge at the Old Benrose train station, Johannesburg, showing the remains of what were once several railway lines. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed) (From the Daily Maverick)

An overhead cable hangs close to the tracks at the Jeppe train station. Thieves cut the overhead cable to be sold as scrap. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed) (From the Daily Maverick)

Underground cables were not spared, with the vast digging up and hacking at train stations. Coaches have also been targeted by criminals, and have been stuck at some stations such as Midway for some time.

Distribution boxes at many stations have been torn and disembowelled of their tiny copper cables. In some instances, the boxes are torched.

The mining of the country’s rail infrastructure has been going on for years.  But during lockdown, with no security personnel around, perpetrators escalated their efforts. The extent of the looting of the country’s rail network has been highlighted in various media outlets over recent months.

On any given day, people can be found scratching for whatever little has been left behind at George Goch station. Extensive damage was also caused to the walls of some buildings at the station.

Perpetrators are not all individual pilferers. Some operate within organised networks. This is how they have managed to steal even the rails, missing along a stretch of the station.

Metrorail Gauteng spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng responded to queries from Daily Maverick, agreeing that it was “unfortunate” that the looting of the rail network would directly affect people who depended on rail for travel.

“The Metrorail market comes from mainly disadvantaged communities and with the high level of unemployment the lack of service will unfortunately strain further the same communities,” said Mofokeng.

“The vast open nature of the Gauteng Metrorail network means there are 218 stations and halts (10 super core, 29 core, 49 intermediate, 48 small and 82 halts) and 1,380km of rail track, 157km of rail network, making it difficult for Prasa to effectively secure both the stations and the rail network. – Daily Maverick

Think about that for a moment. The rail system in SA has to have security, or it will simply be looted. That imposes extra overhead on the rail systems. And this need for security for the rail system is overwhelming, as explained in the following quotation.

In addition, Prasa was set to appoint 5,000 security guards through private security companies during November to help protect the infrastructure. – My Broadband

This quote explains how much SA rail power infrastructure has been removed.

Williams claims that around two-thirds of above-ground electrical cables on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) network of 3,000km has been stolen or broken. With such a substantial portion damaged or malfunctioning, much of the rest of the system also becomes useless, Williams said.

The situation could lead to the complete collapse of South Africa’s rail network, once considered among the best in the world.

To prevent this, transport minister Fikile Mbalula recently announced several measures to protect Prasa’s infrastructure.

One of these is the construction of “impenetrable” and “vandal-proof” concrete walls along identified rail corridors and around substations. – American Renaissance

Fake Degrees

People were faking their degrees in who were managing the SA rail system after being given jobs through nepotism. This is explained in the following quotation.

There has also been widespread corruption and mismanagement at rail transport agencies like Prasa.

One of the best examples of this was the case of Daniel Mtimkulu, who served as Prasa’s chief engineer for five years.

In 2015, Prasa discovered that Mtimkulu had faked his doctorate following a report in Beeld that the paper could not verify his claims that he had a degree from a German university.

Mtimkulu had been responsible for designing the Afro 4,000 diesel locomotives that turned out to be too tall for South Africa’s railway infrastructure. – American Renaissance

This is a very black or Indian thing to fake one’s degrees. And getting the wrong height locomotives happens when you have unqualified people working for the rail system.

Even Coal Moves to Truck

The heavier the item, the more it makes sense to move it by rail. However, even coal now is in part migrating to trucks in SA.

The most notable example of physical derailment occurred in late 2018, when 51 wagons loaded with coal went off the tracks while on route to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. The line, which services South Africa’s main export port, remained closed for most of May. Transnet’s Freight Rail general manager, Caesar Mtetwa, blamed the derailment on “sabotage” in an interview with Engineering News. – Business Insider

Some of the looting was of power lines, which is common in South Africa, which I cover in the article How South Africa’s Decline Mirrors the Decline of Eskom.

South Africa’s Total Track

Even after being looted by blacks and degraded by ANC management, SA still has more than three times the total track of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kilometers of Rail Per African Country

CountryKilometers of Track
Ivory Coast197
South Africa2,228

Rails systems were invented by Europeans. However, blacks have a hard time managing or maintaining rail systems. Of the Sub-Saharan African countries with rail systems, the average number of kilometers of rail.

The Kilometers of Rail Track in Sub Saharan Africa

The total number of kilometers of rail in Sub Saharan Africa if SA is removed is around 700 kilometers. That comes out to roughly 15.5 kilometers per country (697/45). That is amazing as the technology to create rail systems is not a secret.


Under the ANC, SA’s rail system has done nothing but degrade, and as the ANC has only been living off what the white management of the rail system produces, the SA rail system is about to collapse. When this happens, the extensive track of the rail system in South Africa, which is 3x the total of all countries in Sub Saharan Africa, will be useless, and it will be even more extensively looted as bankrupt SA rail systems won’t be able to have security to protect the rail system.