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A Mabopane man who lost his leg when he tried to board a moving train only has himself to blame for his ill-fortune.
This was the verdict of the Pretoria High Court, which for the second time turned down a damages claim by Lucas Shongwe. He is adamant that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is responsible for the damages he suffered.
Shongwe appealed against the court’s earlier ruling, which said he alone was responsible for his fate. In dismissing the appeal, Judge Winston Msimeki said Shongwe was 100 percent negligent.
Shongwe testified earlier that he had a monthly ticket to travel between Pretoria and Mabopane. On November 28, 2006, he was on his way home from work. It was about eight at night when he tried to board the train at Kopanong station near Rosslyn.
As he approached the access control gates to the station, the train stopped at the platform. He ran towards the train, but it was already moving. All the doors were closed except for one, and he tried to board the moving train through this door.
But he slipped and fell between the moving train and the platform. His left leg had such severe injuries it had to be amputated.
In his evidence, Shongwe said he was about 7m from the train when it began moving. He knew he could be seriously injured or killed if he boarded a moving train but “decided to take the risk because he feared for his safety on the platform”.
Shongwe said hardly a day went by without him blaming himself. He admitted that because of his action, he had lost a limb.
Employers of the rail agency testified that all the train doors were firmly closed. One of the train guards saw Shongwe running alongside the train, but “suddenly he disappeared from sight”. A security guard who patrolled the platform testified that he warned Shongwe not to run and when he realised Shongwe wanted to board the moving train, he shouted at him not to do so.
Judge Msimeki said Shongwe should have waited for the next train, under the protection of the guards. He rejected Shongwe’s suggestion that he might be 50 percent liable, but the rail agency was also 50 percent liable. “His injuries were self-created. He only has himself to blame.”