Deadly train game claims another life

Sibongile Mashaba and Vusi Ndlovu

Sibongile Mashaba and Vusi Ndlovu

The establishment of a national anti-train surfing campaign has not helped a Soweto family, whose son became the latest victim of this deadly game at the weekend.

Tshepo Sethlodi, 18, pictured, of Fine Town south of Johannesburg, fell off a train's roof after he was hit by the cable-holding pole between Orlando and Nancefield stations in Soweto on Saturday night.

This despite the efforts of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (Sarcc), which launched Youth at the Frontline of Rail Safety in April to discourage youth from train surfing.

Sarcc turned former staff-riders and surfers into rail safety ambassadors to promote the initiative. It claims that the campaign has reduced death incidents by 60percent.

Sethlodi and his friends, Nhlanhla Motsie and Hlelani Gabaza, went to visit Sethlodi's relatives in Orlando East, Soweto.

Sethlodi's father Samuel Mokoena said the dreaded phone call came at 11.50pm on Saturday that his son had died at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital.

Mokoena said yesterday that he had tried to stop his son from staff-riding.

"I once saw him staff-riding at Nancefield and reprimanded him. I thought he had stopped doing it."

The three friends had been staff-riding and surfing from Ennerdale station, south of Johannesburg.

Last year 19 youths were killed and about 100 injured in the Witwatersrand as a result of surfing trains.

Sarcc spokesman Pule Mabe said: "This represents a 60percent reduction. Some previously notorious lines like the Dube line in Soweto achieved total elimination."

At the launch in April there were about 200 ambassadors, but that number has increased to more than 500.