Prasa news report incorrect - university

2015-07-10 18:56
New locomotive. (Prasa)

New locomotive. (Prasa)

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Johannesburg - A report published on Friday morning regarding a Stellenbosch University official was incorrect, the university said.

"In news reports... reference is made to the Prasa media statement with the assumption that the relevant paragraph states that 'a Dr Pieterse', an 'electrical engineer' at Stellenbosch University found the locomotives to be suitable for local railway lines'," the university said in a statement.

"However, the author of the news report made a serious erroneous assumption based on the following paragraph from statement:

'Prasa further commissioned the University of Stellenbosch which confirmed that the AFRO4000 will be able to pass safely under the minimum contact wire height of 4.5m. The investigation report which included a scientific calculation of gap [looking at all possible scenarios] as well as Lab testing was led by Dr Pieterse [electrical engineer] and accepted by the Prasa Engineering department under the leadership of Dr. Daniel Mtimkulu'."

The university said there was no mention that "Dr Pieterse found the locomotives to be suitable for local railway lines", as reported.

"... Mr Petrus Pieterse was involved with laboratory tests. In 2014 he demonstrated the results of simulation tests in the laboratory to a Prasa delegation," the university said.

"One of the unique challenges of the new locomotive is the interface between its roof components and the overhead electric contact wire. Different working environments were simulated to identify the worst operating conditions. Recommendations related to safe contact wire distances were made to Prasa based on these findings."

The university said Pieterse is a laboratory technician and a valued member of the electrical and electronic engineering department.

"For the purposes of the mentioned experiment, he was co-opted to assist with the setting up and execution of the experiment. The report, reflecting the results of these tests, was compiled by the Prasa Engineering Research Chair and submitted to Prasa."

Report not the work of an individual

Professor Neels Fourie, from the Prasa Research Chair, said the report was a product of the Research Chair, and not the work of an individual.

"Mr Pieterse has never claimed to have a PhD in engineering and as a laboratory technician he would not be registered with ECSA," Fourie said.

Beeld editor and editor-in-chief of Netwerk24 Adriaan Basson said the angle of the story was to expose more of Prasa's inconsistencies, hence the headline "Doctor Pinocchio: Prasa's nose grows and grows".

"In its statement, defending the safety of the controversial Afro4000 locomotives, Prasa referred to an investigation and report done by Stellenbosch University, 'led by Dr Pieterse', who they called an 'electrical engineer'," Basson said.

"In our story, we reveal that Pieterse is neither a doctor, nor an electrical engineer. We made it clear in the story that we have no proof Pieterse himself ever claimed to have a doctorate.

"We still find it strange and very odd that Prasa would name Pieterse as leading the Stellenbosch-investigation, rather than the Prasa research chair at the university."

Read more on:    university of stellenbosch  |  prasa  |  johannesburg  |  transport

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