Working at Prasa more hazardous

Apart from the criminal element, the deadly violence against the employees of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is also perpetrated by passengers, says Minister Blade Nzimande.
Apart from the criminal element, the deadly violence against the employees of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is also perpetrated by passengers, says Minister Blade Nzimande.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Working for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is proving to be a dangerous job, with a whopping 869 employees suffering
serious injuries on duty over the past three financial years.

Fifteen more people died at the agency's premises during the period between April 2015 and March 2018.

In a written reply to a question by DA MP Chris Hunsinger, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande revealed that three Prasa employees died on duty in the financial year that ended in March, while four died in 2016/17 and there were eight deaths in 2015/16.

Nzimande said 282 Prasa employees were involved in "disabling incidents" while on duty in the 2017/18 period.

The number had gone up by 10 fatalities when compared to the previous financial year [2016/17] while in 2015, 315 were disabled while on duty.

The overwhelming number of the disabling injuries [853] were due to assaults by fare- evading commuters and the public and from injuries resulting from company motor vehicles, electrocutions, smoke inhalations resulting from high tension burnouts, trips and falls resulting from uneven surfaces and on platforms and unsafe acts.

While some of the fatalities resulted from train accidents including collisions and staff falling between platforms and trains and being struck by trains [as a result of the fall], Nzimande reported members of the public and commuters were perpetrators of deadly violence in some cases.

He referred to one such incident. "The incident occurred during a station closure at Olifantsfontein, wherein a colleague was assaulted by a commuter.

"The safety patroller (deceased) was rushing to assist the assaulted colleague when he did not observe an approaching train from the south about to enter the station. He moved too close to the line in operation and was struck by the train and died on impact," said Nzimande about a 2015/16 death.

In June 2017, members of a Gauteng community who were part of a service delivery protest and who had blockaded the rail with objects turned violent against Prasa's safety personnel, stoning one to death. The matter is still being investigated by the Kliptown police, he said.

Nzimande said all injuries and fatalities were reported to the Department of Labour as required by the Compensation and Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

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