Train driver hit with a brick and stripped

A female train driver was hit on the head with a brick‚ stripped and dragged to nearby bushes after a train was vandalised at the Eerste Fabrieke Station in Pretoria on Tuesday evening.

“An additional 10 Prasa employees were also attacked during this incident‚” Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said.

“We are very worried about the psychological impact such attacks have on our employees as a whole. Last year a member of the security team was killed by a mob whilst on duty during service delivery protests that spilled onto our service in Gauteng. Meanwhile in Cape Town and Durban our members are robbed at gunpoint and some even stabbed whilst doing their job.”

Metrorail Gauteng on Wednesday suspended trains on the so-called Mamelodi Corridor from Pretoria and Pienaarspoort stations. Prasa bought 20 new trains for this route of which six‚ worth R6.5-million‚ were vandalised.

Prasa Group CEO Cromet Molepo said the crime against their employees and assets is at “catastrophic levels”. He added the “status quo of violence and lack of respect for human life cannot be tolerated by Prasa”.

Meanwhile two men were shot while they were apparently travelling on a train near the Apex Station in Benoni. ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said both men were seriously wounded. Bystanders said both men were on the train when the incident had occurred.

Metrorail said on Wednesday it could be forced to cancel trains on dangerous routes to protect drivers and passengers.

United National Transport Union (Untu) spokesperson Sonja Carstens said on Tuesday that Prasa is sitting on a ticking time bomb‚ because trains were being robbed or hijacked every week.

“Our members don’t carry their phones with them anymore‚ because they are constantly being robbed of their valuables. Phones‚ purses‚ you name it.”

Carstens said trains were hijacked by criminals or by commuters who became frustrated when trains ran late. “Commuters get furious and they simply point a gun at a train driver and force him‚ either by throwing stones or with a knife or a gun‚ to continue on a route.”

Railway Safety Regulator spokesperson Madelein Williams said that according to their records‚ the last train hijacking was in January 2012. They urged trains crews to report these incidents.

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