Train kills tourist in Park Rynie

2011-08-09 00:00

A GAUTENG man was killed when he was struck by a train in Park Rynie on Wednesday.

A freight train carrying 2 220 tons of cement was travelling from Port Shepstone towards Durban when it ran over and killed Deon Gerald Mocke (47) near Oceanic Grove.

“It is alleged that the man was sitting in the tracks when the train driver saw him and applied the emergency brake. However, the train only came to a halt after running over him,” said SA Police Service spokesperson Captain Vincent Pandarum.

The man sustained extensive injuries and was taken to the Scottburgh State Mortuary.

“We managed to track down the deceased’s sister, who lives in Pinetown, and his wife, who was in Gauteng, to inform them of the incident.

“They are extremely traumatised at the moment,” Pandarum said.

Mocke had booked in alone at a beachside resort on the South Coast a few days prior to his death.

There is no foul play suspected at this stage and from the accident report it is clear that the driver did everything in his power to stop the heavy train.

An inquest inquiring into the circumstances of his death is to be opened by Detective Warrant Officer Vis Moodley of the Scottburgh detective services. Eyewitnesses to the incident should call Warrant Officer Moodley at 039 978 1900.

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Solidarity's demands safer railways

THE trade union Solidarity made six demands to Transnet in June about the safety of rail transport in South Africa.

Advocate Paul Mardon, head of Solidarity’s occupational health and safety division, says human error is a leading cause of train accidents.

In addition, safety signals and speed limits are frequently disobeyed and train drivers are in many cases inexperienced or incompetent.

The union stated, “With 1 376 injuries in the first half of 2011, safety standards in the South African rail transport industry are declining rapidly.

“This total is only 556 injuries below the total number of injuries in 2008, one of the deadliest years in the history of the rail transport industry, when 434 fatalities and 1 932 injuries were recorded.”

The following demands were presented to Transnet:

• Train drivers must attend refresher courses and undergo competency tests.

• Shifts must be regulated in a way that will prevent accidents due to fatigue.

• Safety measures must be reviewed and the seriousness of safety measures underlined by means of strict disciplinary measures.

• More visible and complete barriers must be put up at railway crossings (for pedestrians and vehicles) and stricter access control must be exercised at railway lines, especially those located in or nearby densely populated areas.

• Retired train drivers must be brought in temporarily to pass on their expertise to less experienced train drivers.

• A police force for the railways, similar to the former railway police, must be instituted.

Transnet has admitted that there are problems with the competence and conduct of train drivers. These problems must receive “immediate attention,” according to Mardon.

“Crime also has a negative impact on railway infrastructure, with the theft of sleepers, rails and cables leading to derailments and causing signs to malfunction,” Mardon added. — WR.

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