The Gautrain enters passes the highway on its way toPark Station, Johannesburg from Pretoria 120711. picture: Chris Collingridge 915

Johannesburg -

Nearly R40 000 in fines have been issued to passengers using the Gautrain over the past two years for chewing gum and other infringements.

Between June 2010 and July this year, a total of 548 fines were issued to passengers who have broken Gautrain rules.

This amounted to a total of R38 414, MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi said in the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday.

Fines are issued to passengers who break rules such as chewing gum and eating or drinking while on board the train. Gautrain users are also restrained from causing any disturbance of the peace, such as loud music or shouting.

Vadi explained that fines can be paid directly at a station or through an electronic funds transfer. Fines are reduced by 50 percent if they are paid within a month of being issued.

In July, two sisters, Pontso Pakkies and Lebo Sibisi, claimed the Gautrain guards were “violent” after they were found to be chewing gum on the train and said they were detained by security for four hours.

On Tuesday, Vadi denied that the guards had been violent and told the legislature that he “fully supported the actions of the security staff”. He pleaded with Gautrain users to be co-operative with security and said the guards would take action if passengers ignored the rules and then became rude or obnoxious.

Meanwhile, the DA’s Mike Moriarty questioned MEC for Finance Mandla Nkomfe about the cost effectiveness of the Gautrain project and whether costs were being recovered through passenger fares.

“The prospects are fairly good that we will recover [the costs], but it will not happen in this financial year,” said Nkomfe.

He added that the provincial government owed a total of R5 billion to the Gautrain project, of which the National Treasury would finance R4.2bn. The balance of R978 million would be funded through a loan from Absa Bank. - The Star