Supreme Court of Appeal rules against train accident amputee victim

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Jun 18, 2021

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It was not exactly clear what happened on the day a woman landed on the train tracks at Rosslyn Station in Pretoria and subsequently had her right forearm amputated.

However, five judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that was was clear was that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) could not be held accountable.

The North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, had earlier said that Prasa was liable to pay damages to Johanna Sithuse.

She claimed that when she wanted to board the train on the afternoon of August 22, 2008, she was pushed by other commuters.

Sithuse landed on the tracks, where the train severed her arm. She was only 21 at the time.

The train driver, however, claimed that Sithuse jumped in front of his approaching train, a version the Supreme Court found more plausible.

Sithuse blamed Prasa for the fact that she landed under the train’s wheels and said this was because officials failed to adequately supervise commuter activities at the Rosslyn Station.

Prasa admitted that it owed a legal duty to rail commuters, but denied that it was liable for the incident which gave rise to Sithuse’s claim.

According to the entity, it cannot be held accountable if she “threw herself in front of a moving train”.

The driver saw her, applied his brakes, but could not stop the train timeously.

Sithuse testified that, on the day in question, she was returning home from work in Daspoort, Pretoria. She took a train at Daspoort Station thinking that it was travelling to Mabopane. The train proceeded to Rosslyn Station instead and when she realised her mistake, she disembarked in a bid to catch the correct train.

It was also established that she was hit on Platform 1 and not 2 as she had claimed.

It further emerged that contrary to her claim, she fell in front of the train and not alongside a coach.

In rejecting her version, the Supreme Court said there was also no evidence presented by Sithuse to show that there was a crowd which pushed her.

Pretoria News

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