Germiston train crash adds to Prasa's woes
Although there was no life lost this time, Prasa is still expected to pay millions of rand in compensation to the victims rushed to hospital and those who lost valuables in the second accident in as many weeks.
The Railway Safety Regulator said 226 injuries were reported - 159 minor and 67 moderate. However, commuters who were examined at Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston said the number could be higher.
Faulty signal cables have been blamed for the accident, whivh happened at about 8.20am at the Geldenhuys station.
It was reported that the trains had been manually directed when they crashed into each other.
A survivor, Rendani Nepfumbada, said he heard a loud noise before he realised what was happening.
“I then heard people screaming everywhere. I fell down and hurt my eye. We were packed and rolling like sardines as we all scrambled to get out.”
He was among dozens who were rushed to Bertha Gxowa Hospital, and received stitches above his eye.
“I am lucky to be alive and I want Prasa to pay for this negligence,” said Nepfumbada.
Eleven other survivors, speaking shortly after being discharged from hospital, said they were tired of the horrendous conditions and treatment on trains.
Besides the accident that nearly claimed their lives, many complained about always being late for work and receiving numerous warnings that jeopardised their employment.
However, of immediate concern was the loss of valuables in the train crash and the frustrations of having claims processed.
“I lost my wallet and train ticket, so I had to pay an additional R40 when I got to hospital. The nurses here at the hospital told me there is no proof I was on the train. I mean, who thinks about a stupid ticket when you are about to die?” said Goodwin Buthelezi, who was on his way to work when the accident happened.
He said some hospital staff lacked compassion.
“After the train accident, we were told to get back onto the next train that came and go to work and our destinations as if nothing had happened.
"Those officials said they wanted to see blood, and that was the only way we would be permitted to go to hospital to get checked. Other people continued with their journeys, but we fought to be brought to hospital, so the number '200- plus injured' that is being publicised is a blatant lie. It is much higher,” he said
Despite fearing for their lives, passengers said there was nothing they could do because trains were the cheapest transport for the little money most earned as factory workers and in retail stores.
“Every year there has to be a train accident, and frankly, we are used to it,” said Victor Netswinga, who had also just been examined at the same hospital.
Lilian Mofokeng, spokesperson for Gauteng Metrorail, said they were still investigating why another train was authorised to move while the one in front of it was stationary.
She said cable theft was suspected to be the reason for the collision.
Last week, a train crash killed 19 people near Kroonstad in the Free State and left 164 injured.
A survivor of that accident, Neliswa Sandlana, said she was instructed by the train conductor to sit in the third coach but refused. She believes that it was God directing her steps.
“Within a split second there was smoke, people screaming and falling everywhere, and it was just chaotic. I could not even see my child or my nephews, aged one year and two years old.”
Sandlana said she saw her life flash before her.
The Department of Transport and Prasa have set up a 24-hour walk-in and call centre to assist affected people.@Sphumzzy_MaKay