Playing child killed by train

2008-08-25 00:00

AN 18-month-old boy died instantly when he and his two-year-old playmate were hit by a train in Balgowan in the midlands yesterday afternoon.

Spoornet spokesman Sandile Simelane confirmed the accident, and said the second boy was taken to hospital with severe injuries. They were both playing on the railway line that runs past the Trinant informal settlement near Michaelhouse at about 2.30 pm.

Police spokesman Inspector Joey Jeevan said the train driver saw “the two little children playing on the railway track, and attempted to stop the train, however, he was not successful”.

She said the train driver alerted the families of the children.

The injured boy was airlifted by Netcare 911 to Medi-Clinic Hospital in Pietermaritzburg in a critical condition.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said when paramedics arrived they found Iyanda Welkom already dead.

“[He] had very, very serious injuries. The train actually ran over him. The two-year-old sustained head injuries, fractures and had internal injuries. He is still in a critical condition,” said Botha.

Simelane said the accident is one among many in informal settlements where homes are close to railway lines.

The Witness understands that informal settlement dwellers started to live in the area while they were working on the Trinant farm, between the R103 and the railway line. Apparently the land now belongs to Spoornet.

“I can only tell you that we have a problem of evicting people who are living in informal settlements near railway lines because we have to follow the South African Constitution, which requires that we find alternative land for the people,” said Simelane.

uMngeni councillor Moira Gruenenberg said her council has never discussed evicting the residents from the settlement, apparently because the land falls under Spoornet.

Childsafe assistant director Nelmarie du Toit said children as young as those hit by the train should never have been allowed to play away from adult supervision.

She called on Spoornet to take responsibility for such accidents.

“Spoornet should make sure that there are no people living close to its railway lines. The railway tracks should be properly fenced.

“In most cases, accidents like these happen because town planners do not keep the safety of our children in mind,” said Du Toit.

bhans@witness.co.za

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