Johannesburg - A transport union is demanding that the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) be charged with attempted murder following the train crash in Germiston.
More than 200 commuters were injured yesterday after two trains collided at the Geldenhuis Station in Ekurhuleni. and the United National Transport Union (UNTU) wants the regulator and agency to be charged with more than 200 counts of attempted murder.
“Enough is enough. The RSR and Prasa acted reckless in allowing the trains to once again be manually operated when signal problems occurred knowing that the poor management and unsafe execution of the manual authorisation process resulted in a crash between two Metrorail trains at the Elandsfontein Station on 1 June 2017 during which a commuter was killed,” said the union’s general secretary Steve Harris in a statement.
He said according to Wessie Wessels, a senior attorney specialising in criminal law, it was confirmed that there was a prima facie case against RSR and Prasa.
Harris said according to Wessels, the legal test of dolus eventualis must be applied.
“By allowing the trains to be manually operated, the RSR and Prasa objectively foresees the possibility that their acts might cause deaths and persist with it regardless of the consequences,” Harris said.
“The RSR and Prasa were very lucky that a commuter did not die ... but they knew that someone could die. What is even more shocking is that this comes six weeks after the RSR announced on 22 November 2017 that the number of deaths caused by railway operational occurrences has increased by 8% in the 2016/17 reporting period,” said Wessels.
Harris said “RSR and Prasa breached a prohibition directive issued by the railway safety watchdog against the passenger rail service on 2 June 2017”.
“On this day the RSR prohibited Prasa from operating on manual authorisation at various signals in Gauteng. The RSR issued the directive against Prasa, after an investigating into the crash between two Metrorail trains at the Elandsfontein Station on June 1 2017 revealed that the two trains were authorised into a section at the same time, thus indicating poor management and unsafe execution of the manual authorisation process.
“Manual authorisation was necessary because the signals were not working due to cable theft. A commuter was killed, and more than 50 others injured in the crash,” said Harris.
He said the directive was issued in terms of Section 36 of the National Railway Safety Regulator Act No16 2002 and that failure to comply with the directive was an offence in terms of Section 45 of Act 16 of 2002 and “will result in criminal charges and/or a penalty being imposed in terms of the Penalty Fee Regulations 2011 as amended”.
“How can we sit back and blatantly allow innocent train crew members and commuters to put their lives at risk knowing that death is a likelihood? UNTU, who represents most employees working for PRASA, will leave no stone unturned until justice is done,” Harris said.