Cape Town - She goes to work at the Western Cape High Court every day, where she works as a stenographer, but litigant Nilfha Veldman has been waiting years for justice.
She is suing Metrorail for R1.5 million in damages after her husband Lindley was killed when he fell from a moving train about four years ago. She brought the action shortly after his death, but, in papers, Metrorail alleges that he was at fault, claiming that he was train surfing.
Train surfing sometimes refers to train hopping, when commuters jump from a moving train, run alongside it, then try to jump back on.
Shortly before the trial was due to start last year, Metrorail’s lawyers applied to amend their defence so that the allegation that the man attempted to disembark from the moving train was deleted. The move led to the case being postponed, and prompted Judge Lee Bozalek to grant a costs order against Metrorail.
It also meant that Veldman had to join the back of the queue of litigants waiting for allocation of a trial date. Such a date has not yet been obtained.
In the interim, Veldman is appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward to help her.
The accident occurred at Nyanga station at around 8am on January 19, 2009.
Veldman’s claim is for loss of support for her and her six-year-old son Fawaaz, damages for emotional shock and trauma, and loss of earning capacity as a result of the trauma she suffered.
“Witnesses who saw (what happened to my husband) must please come forward.
“I can’t rest. It’s affecting my whole life and that of my family,” she told Weekend Argus this week.
Veldman added that every time she took a train, she thought of what happened to her husband.
“The one that I love will never ever come back. Without him I am lost,” she said.
The couple married in March 2006, and their son was born a month later.
“We were a perfect family,” she said, adding that they had planned to buy a house in 2010.
Since then, Veldman said she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.