19 February 2019
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has slammed yet another senseless attack on members of its rail passenger affiliated trade union, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) after the brutal killing of Piet Barend Botha in June 2016. It seems ironic that this latest incident comes hot off the heels of the Section 77 Protest Action Notice filed to NEDLAC by FEDUSA in conjunction with UNTU against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for their continued failure to deal decisively with the with fatal train accidents, violent crime and murders on trains and railway stations in the Western Cape and across many regions in the country.
Prasa employs more than 16 000 workers, the majority of whom are members of UNTU. Violent crime and robberies have become an endless feature on Prasa passenger trains, endangering the lives of FEDUSA members and millions of commuters who depend on affordable transport to go to and from work on a daily basis.
The latest incident involves Vernon Brynard (56), a senior administrative official at Metrorail in Salt River in Cape Town who was brutally stabbed and robbed by a gang of seven men while he was on his way to work on Monday morning. It was for a third time in three years that Brynard, who has been employed by Prasa for 38 years has been attacked.
“The continuous attacks on our members including drivers, guards, protection services and everyone involved in the maintenance of the infrastructure by criminals and passengers, without management even attempting to discuss any possible solutions to problems such as cable theft that forces PRASA to utilize manual train authorizations, which is highly risky, shows in our opinion, an employer with ignorance and total lack of responsibility,” said Riefdah Ajam, FEDUSA Acting General Secretary.
“The non-visibility of security staff, capable of handling crowds and apprehending criminals and the lack of the relevant Minister, the Board and Management of PRASA, to engage on these matters are a major source of concern for FEDUSA”.
Ajam said the brutal attack on Brynard makes a mockery of the recent claims by Western Cape Metrorail Head Richard Walker that crime prevention by Cape Town’s rail enforcement unit, a joint operation between the City of Cape Town and Prasa, has seen a significant reduction in railway crime since the unit was launched 100 days ago by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande.
Walker told Cape Town Chamber of Commerce last week that 309 arrests resulting in 26 convictions have made over that period and goods worth more than R22 million had been recovered by the unit.
She added that the fact that Prasa failed to comply with Judge Cassim Sardiwalle’s court ruling to date that had been handed down on 12 October 2018 was further proof of contempt, and disregard for the social economic challenges the citizens of this country and users of the services face daily.
For interviews please contact:
Masale Godfrey Selematsela
065 652 2832/083 653 3021
FEDUSA Acting General Secretary
079 696 2626
UNTU General Secretary
082 566 5516
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096