Minister Carlisle: Metrorail Must Stop the Stone Throwers
Robin Carlisle, the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape, has called on Metrorail "to stop the stone throwers that in a little over week have struck at least three train commuters".
"We have been told that a passenger was hit in the face by a stone at Faure Station at around 18:30 on Monday," Minister Carlisle said.
"In another incident, which I am hoping was reported to Metrorail and the police, a woman was allegedly hit on the arm by a stone at around 18:00, also at Faure Station and also on Monday."
"I am extremely concerned that the numbers of such attacks appear to be rising," said Minister Carlisle.
The minister on Monday instructed his department to make contact with the girlfriend of Dutchman Jorrit de Vries, the 26-year-old that lost the vision in his right eye on a Metrorail train in the first stone-throwing incident, which happened last week on Human Rights Day.
The incident happened between Salt River and Woodstock and another commuter told de Vries he had seen the object coming from a passing train.
"We were contacted by Roger de Coito, who had seen the object coming from a passing train and later helped de Vries to a hospital," the minister said.
In an e-mail to Minister Carlisle on Monday, de Coito wrote:
"(The incident) happened at about 18:20 just before Koeberg Road station."
"We stopped at Koeberg Road and told the guard who said he would make a call. When we stopped at Maitland Station, the injured person was asked to get off the train where 'security' would meet him and take him to hospital."
"I joined him as he was alone... At Maitland Station we waited and when nobody even approached us I went to ask at the security office where they told me to go to Metrorail operations room. Got there and nobody knew anything."
Minister Carlisle said Metrorail on Monday revealed to the department that the standard procedure in the event of an incident "is that it can be reported to any official at Metrorail, regardless of rank".
"That person then has the responsibility to report the incident and ensure that the necessary support is in place in the event of injury," Minister Carlisle said.
"However, it appears that although the de Vries incident was reported to the relevant train operator, nothing further was done."
"It is not enough to simply investigate these incidents after they have happened and the commuter has already suffered what could very well be irreversible damage," said Minister Carlisle.
"What we need to see from Metrorail is that their commitments to the safety of passengers translate into actual safety on the trains, something which is clearly not happening at present."
"De Coito told me that when he and de Vries, who was in considerable pain, with his face bloody, arrived at the Metrorail Control Room at Maitland Station, there were ten to 15 security people sitting in the room doing nothing for close to an hour," Minister Carlisle said.
"It is unacceptable that security personnel are lounging in the control room while they are desperately needed on the trains. I will be asking Metrorail's Regional Manager Mthura Swartz for an explanation."
"These incidents are yet another blow to Metrorail's already badly damaged reputation, with the one involving the Dutch tourist now all over European media, which is also bad for tourism," said Carlisle.