Johannesburg - The security guards who detained two women for chewing gum at a Gautrain station acted professionally, the Bombela Concession company said on Friday.
“The company considers that its security guards acted professionally and respectfully throughout, despite being subjected to uncalled-for verbal abuse,” it said in a statement.
Bombela investigated the matter after allegations that two women were detained for four hours and fined R700 for chewing gum at the Rosebank Gautrain station last Friday.
Sisters Pontso Pakkies and Lebo Sibisi told The Star newspaper they were unaware that chewing gum was not allowed on the train. While waiting for the train, Pakkies said a guard approached them and told them to get rid of their gum.
After talking to a guard, they wrapped it in paper and placed it in their bags “as there was no dustbin nearby”. As the train approached, one of the security managers told them they could not board.
“He said we had refused to throw the gum away and he was going to fine us,” Pakkies told The Star.
Pakkies and Sibisi said they were detained in a room that had no cellphone reception. They were refused permission to go to the toilet, or call their families. They were released after paying a R700 fine.
Bombela said it viewed CCTV footage and took statements from those involved. According to its version of events one of the security guards noticed a woman chewing gum on the platform and asked her to throw it into a nearby bin.
“The lady refused to co-operate and began arguing with the guard. He called a second guard to confirm the rule and repeat the request.”
Both women then became increasingly angry and refused to comply. An assistant station manager was called to explain the rules, but the women refused and became argumentative.
The women were asked to follow the manager to the station's security office where the rules were explained again. The company denied that its staff threatened the women, or became violent.
In the office, the women remained loud and would not co-operate, Bombela said. They were asked to produce identification and they refused.
When the women reportedly continued to argue, the police were called. After a long argument the pair finally agreed to identify themselves and received “an appropriate fine”.
One of the ladies called her husband, who came and was briefed by security staff before leaving with the two women.
“The ladies would have been free to continue their journey at any time had they only co-operated.”
Bombela denied that the two were detained for four hours, saying the entire incident lasted two hours. - Sapa