Late-running trains attacked in Pretoria

Picture: Neil McCartney

Picture: Neil McCartney

Two drivers were attacked by commuters and windows shattered as boulders blocked the rails.

Two train drivers were attacked and their train coaches stoned by irate commuters at Koedoespoort station in Pretoria yesterday.

Two Metrorail trains owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) were attacked separately, allegedly because they were running late.

The 42-year-old driver was on her way from Pienaarspoort to Pretoria, but had to stop at a red signal in Koedoespoort.

“The commuters put boulders in front of the train, took off the stone guard and continued to stone the cabin,” said train driver Kgaripane Mogashoa.

“I managed to phone the train control officer and informed him that we were going to die if I am not allowed to continue with the shattered windscreen. The glass and stones were raining down on us.”

Mogashoa was cut by broken glass and the trainee with her was terrified.

The driver said that for the train to continue, she had to get the boulders out of the way which she did by driving slowly to clear the tracks without derailing the train.

“I was totally stressed out, but I knew I had to get the commuters inside the train and the student to safety even though I was bleeding where the glass cut me. I managed to get to Pretoria station where I reported the incident. The student and I are receiving counselling today,” said Mogashoa.

Another driver, Francois Herselman, said he was on route to Pretoria North when the safeguard was taken off and his cabin was stoned at Koedoespoort station.

The window shattered, but he was not injured.

“Commuters were threatening to kill me and the student. It was terrible. I kept on wondering what was going to happen next,” he said.

“Commuters have been getting extremely violent towards train crews in recent months,” said the 53-year-old.

Both train drivers are United National Transport Union (Untu) members.

Steve Harris, Untu general secretary, demanded Prasa put in place security measures similar to those implemented on the notorious Central Line in the Western Cape.

“Prasa and the SA Police Service have allowed the railway line to become such a war zone that drastic expensive measures are needed nationwide,” he said.

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