CCMA rules in favour of train driver

Train driver Kgomotso Senokwane, 38, has won his case of unfair dismissal by Prasa at the CCMA. He is, however, unhappy about the settlement amount offered as compensation.
Train driver Kgomotso Senokwane, 38, has won his case of unfair dismissal by Prasa at the CCMA. He is, however, unhappy about the settlement amount offered as compensation.
Image: THULANI MBELE

A train driver who was fired and blamed for causing a collision between two trains last year has won his dismissal case against rail agency, Prasa.

Kgomotso Senokwane, 38, was fired in December following a train accident in which one person died and 50 others were injured.

His train had crashed into another stationary train.

Senokwane was accused of over-speeding, endangering the lives of commuters and fellow employees in June.

But the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has now ordered his employer - the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to pay him six months' worth of his salaries for unfair dismissal.

CCMA commissioner, Lizel du Plessis, found that Prasa's decision was "procedurally and substantively unfair".

"Although I have found the dismissal of the applicant to be substantively unfair, the reason for my finding is merely that the respondent acted inconsistently in application of discipline," wrote Du Plessis in her ruling.

She ordered that Senokwane be paid R171 102.06 but she declined to make a cost order against the rail agency.

Du Plessis agreed with Prasa's argument that trust between Senokwane and Prasa had broken down and, as a result, didn't order his reinstatement.

Senokwane was left disappointed that he could not get his job back.

"This doesn't feel like a victory at all for me. How can you say I won a case but you didn't reinstate me, and offer me a six-month salary compensation when I have legal costs to pay?" he asked.

"How can the issue of trust matter when the core evidence of Prasa was dismissed? If the CCMA opts for compensation, the amount needs to be substantial."

Prasa spokeswoman Nana Zenani said she would not engage with media on a matter involving employer and employee.

Senokwane argued that the train speedometer couldn't be relied upon as trains were not serviced accordingly and also indicated that electronic authorisation signals were not functional.

He also argued that other Prasa employees facing same charges had not been fired in the past.

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