Press Statement dated 18 February 2019

A Senior administrative official at Metrorail in Salt River in Cape Town got stabbed and robbed for a third time in three years this morning while he was on his way to work.

“I can only pray that I will live till my retirement from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), operator of Metrorail, in six years. I have had enough, but what can I do? I need my job to survive,” says Vernon Brynard (56). He has been employed by Prasa for 38 years.

Brynard was waiting for a train on the platform of the Tygerberg Station at 04:00 this morning when seven men overpowered him. He was stabbed with a sharp object in his left arm.

“They took my train ticket, my identification card and my car keys. I leave my cell phone at home when I go to work,” he told Steve Harris, General Secretary of the United National Transport Union (UNTU), the majority union of Prasa employees.

According to Brynard there was no Prasa protection services, no officials of the Rapid Rail Police unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and none of the Cape Town Rail Enforcement unit officials nearby when he was attacked.

After they took his car keys, his attackers tried to steal his car out of the parking area. The car came to a halt thanks to his alarm device. He reported the incident at the Parow Police Office.

Brynard got ten stiches in his left arm and are recovering at home.

On 29 March 2017 at 04:30 an armed robber overpowered him from behind and stuck a firearm in his back. He wanted to shoot Brynard but ran away with his cell phone and his glasses at the Koeberg Depot in the Western Cape.

In 2015 Brynard was attacked by a group of men who robbed him off his cell phone at the Kraaifontein Station.

“I cannot afford to drive to work with my car daily. I must take the train. I also need to travel at 04:00 in the morning to ensure that I don’t arrive late for work. It is a horrible feeling to leave your home in the morning, knowing that you might not return alive.”

Brynard says he can only pray that he gets a promotion so that he can afford to travel to work by car.

This comes four days after Richard Walker, the head of Metrorail in the Western Cape, boasted that the Cape Town's rail enforcement unit made 309 arrests in its first 100 days of existence, recovered R22 million of goods and secured 26 convictions.

“Irrespective of what Prasa wants the South African tax payers to believe, it and the SAPS is incapable of ensuring the safety of the public or Prasa employees on our railway lines. It is either criminals attacking them or Prasa’s ailing infrastructure failing them,” said Harris.

UNTU launched a Nedlac 77 process to force Prasa Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Transport, to find solutions for the ongoing attacks on UNTU members.

The Section 77 process refers to Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act which speaks to protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers. The intention of this section is primarily to bring disputing parties together to engage on a matter in order to find resolution, and at the same time to try and prevent any protest action which is burdensome to both worker and employers and negatively affects the economy.

The Union is awaiting a response from Nedlac, said Harris.

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