Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to apologise to Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe for criticism of the court ruling against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

DA member of Parliament (MP) Chris Hunsinger called Mbalula's remarks, made on Thursday as he inspected the damage wreaked by an arson attack at Cape Town Central station, childish and vile.

Mbalula seemingly took issue with the high court ruling that Prasa must reinstate contracts with security companies it had terminated until it had finalised a new tender or put in place alternative security measures.

The minister, when asked about the matter, reportedly replied: “Does he [Judge Hlophe] know how to run trains? He must ask himself that particular question before he makes himself a Mickey Mouse and turns our courts into something that must not be respected”.

He went on to add: “I will never look away from a decision of the court - if the courts say we must implement the decision to bring the security companies back, the board must take that decision … we either implement or challenge those decisions”.

Hunsinger said this attempt to mitigate his initial remarks was not sufficient. 

"This public rant is highly unbecoming of a member of the executive and constitutes a personal and ugly attack on Judge Hlophe and an attack on the judiciary as a whole. His inferences to Mickey Mouse are childish and indicative of extremely poor character," Hunsinger said.

"It is clear that Minister Mbalula realised his coarse language was highly unprofessional, but stating he might or might not decide to challenge a court ruling, which he does still respect, does not pardon him for blatantly disrespecting and insulting a member of the Judiciary who made that ruling. Minister Mbalula must hold his tongue accountable for the statements he chose to make, and publicly apologise to Judge Hlophe, and the judiciary, whose only clear interest was that of passenger, asset and staff safety and the maintenance thereof."

He said if the minister failed to retract his "vile and childish comments" by Sunday, the official opposition would ask  President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

African News Agency/ANA