Cape boxer sues Prasa for close to R8m after losing leg in train accident

Shepherd Sithole is seeking R8m worth damages against Prasa after losing his leg during a train accident in 2019. pic supplied

Shepherd Sithole is seeking R8m worth damages against Prasa after losing his leg during a train accident in 2019. pic supplied

Published May 18, 2024


Cape Town - A 25-year-old Cape Town boxer is seeking damages of close to R8 million, claiming the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was negligent and did not heed any warnings on the day he was struck by a train which cost him his leg.

According to court papers, Shepherd Sithole of Maitland was hit by a train at about 7pm on April 8, 2019 at Maitland Station, and was left with serious injuries to his right lower leg.

Via his legal team, headed by Tzvi Brivik, director of Malcolm Lyons & Brivik Inc, he claims Prasa was negligent in that they allegedly failed to give adequate warning of the approach of the train, failed to sound the hooter of the train to warn Sithole of the approach of the train, and that the train was travelling at an excessive speed on the day.

Sithole further states that Prasa officials allegedly “failed to apply brakes to the train”, including the emergency brakes, and permitted access to the tracks through an open gate to members of the public, and did not act with due care.

As a result of his severe injuries, on being admitted to hospital he had to undergo an amputation of his injured limb.

“He will in the future require further treatment and he has incurred medical expenses while in hospital and will incur more in the future, and he is physically disabled,” the court papers states.

“He suffered shock, pain, suffering, discomfort and disability, and will in the future suffer further pain, discomfort and disability.”

They added that his disability will also affect his future earnings.

In his plight, Sithole seeks damages for estimated past hospital and medical expenses to the value of R150 000, and for future medical expenses, R500 000, including orthopaedic surgeon care, prosthetics, occupational therapy, assisted devices and others.

Shepherd Sithole is seeking R8m worth damages against PRASA after losing his leg during a train accident in 2019. pic supplied

For the loss of income he is seeking a stipend of R4 000 a month for 10 months, with a total claim of R2 000 000 and R800 000 for general damages.

In essence, he seeks the amount of R7 999 000 in damages.

A report by expert witness Konrad Walter Lötter, who specialises in technical investigations and consultants and worked for the SAPS, is also included in the case.

According to the expert, a statement by the train driver was also utilised on his version of events, and photo albums and sketches of the scene, including an inspection of the site, and a copy of Prasa access and control manual were viewed.

In his findings, Lötter said it was clear the gate used by technical staff was open and that the gate had later been removed.

He further indicated that via the driver’s version, he was driving the train from Kapteinsklip to Cape Town and he had noticed an unknown man crossing the tracks.

He had used the technical staff gate and sounded his siren and used his headlight, and the man did not react and walked into the train

In his findings, the expert said if the driver had kept a proper lookout he would have been able to assess to the situation in order to stop in time, and if he had applied brakes, the pedestrian would have been able to get away.

Tzvi Brivik, director of Malcolm Lyons & Brivik Inc’s client, Shepherd Sithole is seeking R8m in damages against PRASA. file image

Brivik told Weekend Argus, Prasa has to take accountability in ensuring safety and precautions on tracks.

“The defendant in this matter must take additional care to ensure that the trains which it runs are safe – meaning that they are in good running order and that the train drivers are properly trained to avoid collision with pedestrians. This means sounding a horn or slowing down. In addition, the balance of the infrastructure needs to be secure as well.

“Railway lines in or around stations where many such lines intersect, sometimes as many as eight different lines, need to be secure. In this instance the fencing around the station had been removed many years prior to the incident. No attempts were made to repair this.

“Aerial photographs taken over the Stikland Station as well as others show well-worn pedestrian paths crossing the railway lines as residents in the area take short cuts.

“The defendant must ensure that this does not take place. It places the lives of the residents who use these paths in danger.

“I hope that as this matter was resolved by agreement, the terms remaining confidential, the defendant will also take note of the dangerous conditions that have been created and start reviewing safety in and around the various stations around the Western Cape and nationally.

“The purpose of such litigation is not only to obtain damages for our clients, but also to achieve structural change for commuters, people using the railways for their daily transport needs, and also pedestrians and residents who live in or around the stations, making these areas safer.”

Prasa believes the out-of-court settlement will bring closure to this matter, saying an assessment of the injuries will be determined, including calculations of their monetary value.

Weekend Argus