Hundreds suffer disabling injuries at Prasa
Working for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is proving to be a dangerous job with a whopping 869 employees suffering disabling injuries while on duty over the past three financial years.
Fifteen more people died at the agency's premises during the period between April 2015 and March 2018.
In a written reply to a question by DA MP Chris Hunsinger‚ Transport Minister Blade Nzimande reveals that three Prasa employees died while on duty in the financial year that ended in March while four died in 2016/17 and there were eight deaths in 2015/16.
Nzimande revealed that 282 Prasa employees were involved in “disabling incidents” while on duty at the rail agency in the 2017/18 period. The number had gone up by 10 fatalities when compared to the previous financial year [2016/17] while in 2015‚ 315 became disabled while on duty.
The overwhelming number of the disabling injuries  were due to assaults by fare evading commuters and the public and from injuries resulting from company motor vehicles‚ electrocutions‚ smoke inhalations resulting from high tension burnouts‚ trips and falls resulting from uneven surfaces and on platforms and unsafe acts.
While some of the fatalities were a result of train accidents including collisions and staff falling between platforms and trains and being struck by trains [as a result of the fall]; Nzimande reported that members of the public and commuters were perpetrators of deadly violence in some cases.
He referred to one such incident.
“The incident occurred during a station closure at Olifantsfontein‚ wherein a colleague was assaulted by a commuter. The safety patroller (deceased) was rushing to assist the assaulted colleague when he did not observe an approaching train from the south about to enter the station. He moved too close to the line in operation and was struck by the train and died on impact‚” said Nzimande about a 2015/16 death.
In June 2017‚ members of a Gauteng community who were part of a service delivery incident and who had blockaded the rail with foreign objects turned violent against Prasa's protection services personnel‚ stoning one protection official to death. The matter is still being investigated by the Kliptown police‚ he said.
Nzimande reassured that all injuries and fatalities had been reported to the Department of Labour as required by the Compensation and Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
“We do not have any other claims‚” he added.
Hunsinger had also inquired whether Prasa had paid out for claims and the value of such claims if any were made.