Cape Town, 28.02.2006: School kids run on the station platform at Woodstock Station after 9am still trying to get to school after power failures crippled Metrorail. Picture Rogan Ward.

Leading advocate Paul Hoffman has warned Metrorail that he will drag them to court if they continue to hold school children who use their trains without a valid ticket.

Hoffman, of the Institute of Accountability in SA, said on Wednesday that holding children was very traumatic and infringed on their rights.

Metrorail said many children continued to travel without valid tickets with impunity, and have denied claims of detaining minors.

Metrorail regional head Mthuthuzeli Swartz said: “Metrorail employees have again been advised how to deal with young patrons.”

He said parents must impress upon their children the need to be responsible rail users.

Hoffman, however, said it was not the fault of the children when their parents did not buy them tickets.

“Instead of holding them, Metrorail should take down their details [and] parents should write a note explaining why the child does not have a ticket. The child should then be allowed to continue with their journey,” he said.

People without a valid ticket are charged a R40 fee.

Hoffman said taking children off trains was a “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Swartz denied that children were apprehended, claiming that they were only held back for as long as it took to get their details. He said Metrorail was not punishing children.

“Children are the adults of the future; it is irresponsible to perpetuate, and by implication condone, a fresh generation of non-payers,” Swartz said. - Cape Argus

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