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Court dismisses application by commuter who ‘fell off moving train’

Trains stand at a station as one pulls out.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) welcomes the judgment handed down by the Gauteng Division of the High Court and the R2.9 million savings. Picture: Metrorail KZN/Prasa (Facebook)

Published Nov 5, 2023


Durban — The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has welcomed the judgment in its favour in the R2.9 million lawsuit against the entity.

In a statement, Prasa said that on Thursday the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria dismissed with costs an application brought by a commuter suing the entity for delictual damages arising from injuries she sustained when she was on board a Metrorail train in 2019.

The High Court found that the plaintiff's testimony was insufficient, lacked credibility and was unreliable. It did not support her version of events and as a result, failed to establish Prasa’s liability or wrongful conduct.

Prasa said that on September 10, 2019, the plaintiff took a train in Durban to Park Rynie on the KZN Coast. She testified that she fell off the moving train through open doors at the Park Rynie station.

Prasa’s legal counsel argued that the plaintiff was the sole cause of the incident due to her negligence. A Metrorail guard who was on duty when the incident took place testified that she was sleeping when the train arrived at her destination and subsequently jumped off the train as it departed from Park Rynie station.

“The High Court granted Prasa absolution from the instance, saving the organisation R2.9m in claims,” Prasa said. “Furthermore, the court could not find that she was a lawful commuter at the time of the incident.”

Prasa said that according to the Legal Succession to the South African Transport Services Act 9 of 1989 it is a criminal offence to board a train without purchasing and producing a ticket or producing proof of purchasing a ticket.

“While any injury or accident involving a commuter in our rail environment is unfortunate and regrettable, Prasa welcomes the judgment handed down by the High Court and the R2.9m saving,” Prasa said.

“From a governance perspective, the judgment represents a positive step toward our ongoing efforts to reduce passenger-related liabilities.”

Prasa added that it had put in place measures to ensure the safety of commuters using their services.

“The organisation has taken a zero-tolerance approach to negligence and passenger injuries through the recent launch of our safety campaign “Asiphephe – Let us be safe’,” Prasa said.

“The hi-tech X’trapolis Mega Trains that we are rolling out on the recovered corridors/and or routes are designed with commuter safety in mind. They feature automated doors that cannot be forcefully opened by commuters, and the trains do not move when the doors are open or when an obstruction is detected.”

In conclusion, Prasa said that recently the Railway Safety Regulator issued the agency with an Annual Safety Improvement Plan Notice of Compliance, indicating its satisfaction with the safety measures put in place by the organisation.

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