Metrorail blames union for train torchings

2013-01-26 20:05
Metrorail train (Picture: Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Metrorail train (Picture: Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - Metrorail in Gauteng opened a case of malicious damage to property against the National Transport Movement on Saturday after four trains were set on fire in the province.

"This is as a result of a series of trains burning since the beginning of the NTM strike which started on 18 January 2013," Metrorail's spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng said in a statement.

Mofokeng said on Wednesday one train was torched at the Braamfontein yard and another at Croesus station, leaving three coaches totally destroyed.

On Friday night, two more trains were set alight. One was at Braamfontein station, in which three coaches were damaged, and the other was at Kliptown station, where two coaches were damaged.

"It cannot be a coincidence that when the same leadership of NTM facilitates a strike we have this unacceptable behaviour of torching of assets.

"When looking back at the strike organised by Ephraim Mphahlele, the President of NTM last year, five trains were burnt," said Metrorail's manager Tembela Kulu.

"We hold this movement and its leadership fully accountable and expect them to be answerable for this loss that will cost millions of rands..."

NTM deputy general secretary Liver Mngomezulu said they were not aware about the trains that were set alight, and said their members were "peaceful".

"They [Metrorail] must put their house into order; in the Western Cape their train was burnt down where there is no strike. Now if their train can catch fire while in motion where there is no strike... what is the difference with Gauteng [trains]?" said Mngomezulu.

A train caught fire on Tuesday at the Woodstock railway station in Cape Town and left thousands of commuters stranded. The cause of the fire was not known.

Mngomezulu said Metrorail should not drag the name of their president "through the mud" by alleging he had a history of burning the trains whenever there was a strike.

"Mr Mphahlele is a principled man who likes peace, they know him... he doesn't want corruption."

He said the strike that started last week Friday was over the issue of the recognition of their union in the bargaining council.

- SAPA

Read more on:    metrorail  |  johannesburg
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