The Gautrain stalker is 'escalating' his attacks

10 March 2019 - 00:00 By GRAEME HOSKEN
A Gautrain commuter is stalking women who use the train service.
A Gautrain commuter is stalking women who use the train service.
Image: Halden Krog

Three Pretoria women have told of how they have been repeatedly stalked and intimidated by a commuter on the Gautrain.

The man, believed to be a convicted sex fiend who works at a Johannesburg law firm, has allegedly followed the women to other carriages, their cars and offices. One victim also claims he followed her as she drove out of the Pretoria Gautrain parkade.

Four women have submitted statements to Gautrain authorities, three of whom spoke to the Sunday Times.

Police have confirmed they are working with the women and assisting one victim to obtain a protection order.

One of the women said she had first become aware of the man in October 2017. She had three further encounters with him in 2018 and a further five this year and said his behaviour had become increasingly aggressive.

She described one incident: "He saw me as I was about to get off the train at Hatfield. I noticed him right next to me and even physically bumping into my right-hand side. [After getting off the train] I slowed down and he slowed down too. I ran up to the stairs ... and was the first one to get into the basement parking. I heard footsteps behind me and I glanced back to see him about 5m behind me with his eyes fixated on me. He aggressively confronted me, telling me he was not following me. When I got into my car he walked away."

She said that as she drove out she saw him walk back to where they had come from and realised that he had not been parked in the vicinity.

Other confrontations had been similar.

The women asked not to be named out of fear for their safety.

They became aware of each other after forensic psychologist and former head of the SAPS Investigative Psychology Unit, Dr Gerard Labuschagne, began investigating the cases. The unit investigates serial killers and sexually motivated crimes.

Labuschagne was approached by the father-in-law of one of the victims. During his investigation he discovered that three other women had experienced similar incidents involving the same man.

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Two of the women had taken videos and photographs of the man on separate days of each other, and the others had written down his vehicle registration. Labuschagne said this had helped to identify the man and confirm his 1992 conviction for indecent assault.

Until now the man has kept physical contact to a minimum. But a threat assessment report by Labuschagne, based on the four victims' statements, reveals the stalking is escalating and notes concerning changes to the stalker's behaviour, with increasing risks to victims.

He was driving aggressively behind me. He was following me. It was terrifying
Victim of Gautrain stalker

One of the women said she had not got much support from Gautrain officials.

"This man has a previous conviction for sexual assault. He is the problem and he is not stopping. He followed me two weeks ago. When I reported this to Gautrain I was told to get a protection order," she said.

She said she now travels with male colleagues for protection.

"He is like a ghost. Out of nowhere he is suddenly next to you."

Another victim said she had been followed out of the Pretoria station by the man.

"He was driving aggressively behind me. He was following me. It was terrifying. Gautrain says I must get a protection order, but they must ban him."

But Gautrain spokesperson Kesagee Nayager said: "We must operate in accordance with the laws. We cannot ban an individual based on allegations. We are working with the police."

She said they had received one official complaint as well as "unofficial" complaints in the form of written statements via Labuschagne.

"We have advised the passengers to lodge complaints with the police and apply for protection orders."

Nayager said the Gautrain had offered the official complainant legal assistance to apply for a protection order.

Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Marvin Masondo said they were investigating the incidents.

Approached for comment via cellphone, the alleged stalker, who confirmed his name to the Sunday Times, said: "No, no, I don't know about this. It's very noisy here in the reception, I can't hear you. I will phone you back."

Further attempts to reach him via cellphone failed, with his phone turned off. He did not reply to SMSed questions.

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