Commuters outraged after three-hour delay

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A woman train driver and three passengers were injured yesterday morning when angry Metrorail commuters stoned a train that arrived three hours late at KwaMnyandu Station in Umlazi, south of Durban.

Eleven people were arrested after the angry mob vented their impatience when a train, supposed to have arrived at 5.15am, was delayed for more than three hours.

When the train finally arrived, the commuters started stoning it. Windows were smashed and three passengers were injured.

Several vehicles were also damaged during the incident. When police arrived, they clashed with the irate commuters and 11 people were arrested.

Mthokozisi Yengwa, who injured his hand and ear in the process, said commuters were annoyed at the prospect of losing their jobs.

"You should have seen the anger. But it was understandable considering that we spend our hard-earned money to buy monthly tickets. When the train got delayed, people just got mad because it meant some of them were likely to lose their jobs," said Yengwa.

He said what made things even worse was that no explanation was given by Metrorail.

Police spokesman Superintendent Daniella Veldhuizen said six vehicles were damaged during the clash.

"A group of about 400 people at the station were angry when the train was delayed. They started stoning it when it arrived. They also started insulting and assaulting commuters who were on board. A woman train driver was injured in a process," said Veldhuizen.

The arrested people are expected to appear in court today or later this week, Veldhuizen said.

Thandi Mkhize, Metrorail marketing and communications manager, said they experienced a power failure at their central traffic control in the morning, resulting in the delays.

"Some cars belonging to SAPS and Metrorail were damaged in the outburst. We will repair them in the next few weeks," said Mkhize.

Mkhize also warned that Metrorail would only be able to run a limited service. She said they would run half the number of normal trains because of the planned solidarity strike by other unions sympathising with the ongoing public sector protest.

Mkhize said trains would be running at 20 to 30 minute intervals.