Press Statement dated 9 January 2018

Yet another innocent worker, a security guard, was brutally shot dead at the Chris Hani Station on the notorious Central Line in the Western Cape just after 18:00 tonight when he escorted a female metro guard of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) at the turnaround back to Cape Town.

The United National Transport Union (UNTU), the majority Union in Prasa, informed Cromet Molepo, Acting Group Chief Executive Officer, tonight (9 January 2017), that our members will not be working on the Central Line as of tomorrow 10 January unless members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and more security guards, are present on the trains and the platforms of the stations where they need to stop.

The latest victim, a security guard trying to earn a decent living wage working for a private security company contracted by PRASA, was working with Prasa metro guard Christelle Meyer (41) on yet another dangerous shift on the Metrorail train between Cape Town and Khayelitsha. He was shot in his throat with his service pistol and died instantly.

“He was such a kind man. He did nobody any harm. This is such a senseless murder. Our lives mean nothing. Each morning when I leave home, I realise that I don’t know if I will see my 20-year-old daughter or my life partner again,” says Meyer, a member of UNTU for the past decade.

Meyer told Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, that the train left the Cape Town Station at 16:15. At the Heideveld train station two men pointed her and her armed guard with a firearm. “He told me to fall down which I did,” she says.

The train continued to the Nyanga train station. “When we stopped at the platform, three armed men got onto the train and robbed several commuters,” says Meyer.

When the train stopped at the Chris Hani station at about 18:00 Meyer and her armed guard had to leave the train at the turnaround back to Cape Town. “I saw there was a commotion at the cabin of the train driver where he and his armed guard got out. The next moment I heard a shot. I turned around and found my armed guard with shot.,” a deeply traumatised Meyer says.

UNTU is withholding the name of the guard because his next of kin has not yet been informed of the incident.

According to Meyer she was also involved in an armed robbery on the Central Line three weeks ago when armed robbers overpowered the armed guards hired by Prasa on UNTU’s demand to protect the train crew.

This comes after train services on the Central Line was suspended by Molepo early December after repeated violent attacks on train crew members despite the presence of armed guards on the Central Line.

UNTU applied to the Western Cape High Court in March 2017 for a Court Order to force Prasa to adhere to the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Constitution to provide a safe working environment for its employees.

Prasa opposed the application, saying the state-owned enterprise can do no more and that the SAPS are not assisting the passenger rail service. UNTU also joined the SAPS as a respondent in the application. The matter will be heard in the third court term this year.

Issued on behalf of United National Transport Union (UNTU) by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer