Trains may be sold to settle Prasa’s debtComment on this story
Cape Town - Two trains owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) have been attached over a R7 million debt to two security businesses.
Prasa, however, has said that it has since settled its bills with the businesses.
According to documents in the possession of the Cape Times, a sheriff recently attached the trains following an urgent court application by Chuma Security Services and Sechaba Protection Services Western Cape to get the agency to pay.
Prasa spokesman Moffet Mofokeng said on Thursday: “Prasa has settled the R7 million bill and that’s the most important thing. Therefore, the companies in question have been paid.”
While representatives for Chuma and Sechaba said an official from Prasa had contacted them on Wednesday assuring them that they would receive payment, there hadn’t yet been reflection of payment in their bank accounts by late on Thursday. The two businesses have provided a range of security services for Prasa on two train lines in and around Cape Town.
These services included commuter safety and the protection of Prasa assets, such as buildings, parked trains and copper wires.
Chuma managing member Sithethi Ngcwangu said they had provided the services on the Northern line from Mutual station to Somerset West, Strand and Worcester. Now they only provided commuter safety services.
Adiel de Bruyns, the owner of Sechaba, which carries out services on the Southern line from Cape Town central to Simon’s Town, confirmed this. He said that many of the services they had previously provided had been cut.
In a separate response on behalf of Prasa issued by Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott, the agency said: “In compliance to Prasa’s business continuity process assets, employees and commuters remain protected and operations continue unaffected.”
An order was issued by the Western Cape High Court on February 27 in terms of which Prasa had to pay the R7m within seven days. A copy of the order also had to be forwarded to the ministers of transport and labour.
Attorney Mark Hess, representing Chuma and Sechaba, said Prasa had not opposed the application and, following the court order, had requested an extension until March 28.
He said his clients had by then still had not received payment.
The businesses had also gone to court last year to recover a separate R11m but this was later settled and the money paid in instalments.
According to Hess, who by late on Thursday also had no knowledge of his clients being paid, the assets attached by the sheriff would be sold unless debt was settled.
De Bruyns and Ngcwangu said they were concerned about paying their employees and said they needed the money.
“I can’t even go to my office because the employees are there and they want answers,” said Ngcwangu.