Judge Cynthia Pretorius said that Metrorail was 100% liable for the damages sustained by Irvine Mashongwa of Mamelodi East, whose left leg was amputated when thugs assaulted and pushed him out of a moving train on New Year’s Day in 2011.
Mashongwa is suing the Passenger Rail Agency for R4 million in damages, although the actual amount he must receive will only be determined at a later stage.
There were no security guards on the train when Mashongwa boarded at the Walker Street station in Pretoria. The train pulled away with the doors still open and Mashongwa was the only person in the coach until three men entered from an adjoining coach and demanded his wallet and cellphone.
Even though he complied, the men hit and kicked him before throwing him out of the moving train. He landed just before the platform at the Rissik Street station, where his cries for help remained unanswered. He was assisted by two security guards only after he managed to crawl onto the platform.
In contrast to Metrorail’s denial that Mashongwa had been a passenger or was thrown from the train, a security guard testified that she had heard a scream and saw Mashongwa being thrown from the train.
Her versions of when she had heard the scream differed and she claimed she had seen four men forcing open the doors of the fast moving train and throwing Mashongwa out.
Judge Pretorius accepted Mashongwa’s version that the doors had been open when he was thrown out. She said it was clear from the evidence that Metrorail knew these incidents were not isolated and they had an obligation to provide some form of protection on trains.
Their own witness conceded that if there had been one armed security guard on the train, it may have prevented the incident. She said the incident took place during the festive season, which according to Metrorail’s own witnesses posed a greater risk of incidents of this nature.
Although she accepted that it would not be economically viable to have three armed guards in each coach, there was no evidence that Metrorail could not afford at least one armed security guard per train.