The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called on authorities to charge the driver of a truck that was involved in a fatal accident with a passenger train in the Free State on Thursday to be charged with murder instead of the lesser crime of culpable homicide.
It is believed that at least 14 people perished in the accident, more than 100 were seriously injured and a number of coaches exploded into flames on impact.
“We would like to express our sincere condolences to the families of all the people who lost their lives in this terrible accident. It is so outrageous that people can be so irresponsible by choosing to disobey basic rules of the road,” said FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George.
“Trains always have the first priority at level crossing. We want this person to be charged with murder and not culpable homicide because we want a clear signal to all motorists out there that this type of irresponsibility cannot be tolerated”.
Steve Harris, the Secretary General of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), an affiliate of FEDUSA in the passenger rail sector, said it was unfortunate that many motorists are increasingly disobeying critical rules of the road such as the requirement to always stop at a level railways crossing and then proceeding only when it is absolutely safe to do so.
“This is something that happens daily at all railway crossings across the county. Drivers are simply not cautious that a train might be approaching,” said Harris.
“A Passenger rail train at its highest speed will be travelling at 90 km per hour. By the time the driver sees a vehicle obstructing the railway line and starts applying with its emergency brake application, it will only be able to come to a complete standstill in between 500 m and 1 km. There is no way that the train driver will be able to prevent a coalition”