Cape Town - A seven-coach train owned by the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) has been attached to settle a R2.4 million debt the parastatal owes a Cape Town security company.
High Goals Investments cc, trading as Chuma Security, has been embroiled in a legal battle with the rail agency over an unpaid debt for services it provided in July.
The company has also charged that Prasa is in contempt of a Western Cape High Court order compelling the state-owned enterprise to pay the R2.4m debt.
The order to attach Prasa’s moveable assets was issued on Thursday. It came as another Prasa-contracted security company, Supreme Security Services, joined an urgent application to compel the rail agency to pay the more than R4.8m it owes it for services rendered in July and August. That application is expected to be heard this week.
In the court papers, the companies claimed Prasa owed them more than R7m and warned of the possibility of liquidating their businesses or starting retrenchments because of Prasa’s non-payment and the “steadily increasing arrears”.
Chuma Security attorney Mark Hess said Prasa had a constitutional duty to ensure a safe environment for commuters. He said his clients had rendered security services in that regard.
Hess confirmed recently receiving final payments in another instance, after five Prasa vehicles were attached to settle the amount of R7.7m it owed Chuma, Supreme and Sechaba Security Services.
In 2014, two trains owned by Prasa were attached over a R7m debt to Chuma and Sechaba security.
In order to enforce payment, the companies had no other option but to attach Prasa assets and to remove them for a possible sale in execution to settle the outstanding claims, he said.
Hess said he had not received a response from Prasa since the warrant of execution was issued.
Chuma Security provides services to the northern line, while Supreme Services worked along the “notorious” central line, which included Langa, Bonteheuwel, Kapteinsklip and Khayelitsha.
Chuma Security managing member Sithethi Ngcwangu said he had received R500 000 of the money owed. He described this as a far cry from what was needed to pay over 400 employees in July.
“I am under pressure from my employees. Late payments like this has never happened before. Some of them think I kept the money for my personal use.
“Some of them do understand what we are going through. These people (Prasa) know we rely on them, hence they are behaving like this. I have reached this point because of their treatment. It's even hard to get a bank loan because we don't know when we will get paid.”
Prasa had not responded to a Cape Times enquiry by deadline.