The company that runs Gautrain has denied allegations that its security guards were aggressive towards two sisters found chewing gum on a station platform.
Bombela Concession Company’s Kelebogile Machaka said CCTV footage of the incident on the Rosebank platform indicated that the two women had been the ones in the wrong.
Machaka said the footage showed that the sisters, Pontso Pakkies and Lebo Sibisi, had subjected the guard to “uncalled for verbal abuse”, to the point where another guard had to intervene. “We consider that our security guards acted professionally and respectfully throughout,” she said.
Machaka did not explain how they were able to ascertain that the security guards were being verbally abused as there was no audio on the footage, only pictures.
Pakkies said last week she and her sister had been traumatised at the “violent” way the guards handled them. They claimed they were not aware chewing gum was not allowed, and the guard who had told them to spit it out had not explained.
She said the guard had tried to explain, but there was a language breakdown. Pakkies said they had asked the second of the two guards to explain why they were not allowed to chew gum on the platform.
She said she and her sister had wrapped the gum in tissue and placed it in their bags after an explanation.
Just as they thought all was well, two security managers had arrived, refused them permission to board, detained them and called the police, said Pakkies. The sisters were issued a R700 fine.
Machaka said on Monday the footage showed a guard approaching the sisters and politely requesting them to put their gum in the bin.
She said they had refused and began arguing with him.
They also refused to co-operate with a second security guard.
“The assistant station security manager arrived on the scene, explained the reason for the rule and again requested simple co-operation. When this was refused and the loud and argumentative manner of the ladies was seen to be embarrassing other commuters, he asked them to follow him back to the station security office.
“(In the security office), they remained loudly argumentative and unco-operative. Eventually, the security manager informed them that he would have to fine them and that unless they co-operated, the matter would be escalated to the South African Police Service.”
Machaka said police were called and the guards briefed them.
After a “long and loud tirade”, the ladies had eventually identified themselves, allowing the appropriate fine to be issued.
“The ladies would have been free to continue their journey at any time had they only co-operated. Ultimately, they were detained for two hours and 25 minutes, not the four hours they alleged.”
Machaka also said their security guards had the authority to detain and issue fines to people who disobeyed Gautrain rules.