Chaos after train derails in Nelspruit

Riot Hlatshwayo

Hundreds of commuters travelling by train from Gauteng to Mozambique and other places in Mpumalanga's Lowveld region were stranded at the Nelspruit station yesterday after a goods train was derailed.

The goods train left the rails about a kilometre east of the Nelspruit station on top of a railway bridge.

The road under the bridge had to be closed to early morning traffic, including buses ferrying people to work, and alternative routes into the city had to be used.

The derailed train's coaches on top of the bridge were in danger of falling off the overpass and posed a risk to those underneath.

Some of the stranded passengers at the Nelspruit Station ran away saying they believed it was a trap to arrest them for being in the country illegally.

"I am Mozambican and boarded the train in Johannesburg, but I realise that the police can arrest me right here so I'm leaving," Santos Domingo told Sowetan.

Passengers, some with small babies on their backs, stood in a large crowd waiting for word from the Shosholoza management about what action to take.

But there was no sign of Shosholoza officials when Sowetan arrived at the scene just before 6am.

Shosholoza Meyl spokesman, Molatwane Likhethe, later told Sowetan that they had arranged for buses to transport the stranded passengers to their destinations.

Likhethe could not immediately say what had caused the derailment, but said investigations were under way.

Likhethe denied that passengers were not informed about the reasons for their being stranded.

"It is our standard procedure to inform passengers about what is going on. It is not true that they were left in the dark," Likhethe said.