Train driver attacked

Just a few hours before the release of the crime statistics, which revealed that Kraaifontein was one of the top 10 hot spots in the province, metro train driver JD Joubert was attacked in the early hours of Friday morning, September 2.

He shot and killed one of his four attackers, just three metres from the office where he had to sign the attendance register at the Kraaifontein station.

The three other attackers fled on foot.

While it was initially reported in a press release issued by the United National Transport Union (UNTU) that he was arrested, a subsequent statement read, “He (Mr Joubert) said SAPS did not arrest him on a charge of murder.

“He was questioned about the incident for hours and a statement was taken from him before he was allowed to go home.

“He was told not to make any statements by the attorney that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) appointed on his behalf.

This was the second time in a month that Mr Joubert, 60, was attacked on the job. On Tuesday August 2, he was also attacked, leading him to tender his resignation, following 41 years of service. His latest attack came two days short of his last day of work on September 30

Mr Joubert was armed with a personal firearm.

The union said he fired it in self defence, fatally wounding a 26-year-old attacker.

According to Steve Harris, general secretary of Untu, members are up in arms about the attack on Mr Joubert because, he claims, Prasa was not doing anything to protect them.

“The emotions of Untu members are running high,” he said, adding, “We are unable to calm them.

“This is the third life lost in two months after the senseless killings of train driver Pieter (Barend) Botha at the Netreg Station and of a male armed security guard of Comwezi Security who was shot in the head by two armed robbers while patrolling the line between Heideveld and Nyanga near Thambo Village. How many more people need to die before Prasa and government will act?”

While Sonja Carstens, Untu’s media and liaison officer said Mr Joubert’s attorney has instructed him not to comment further, the union quoted Mr Joubert as saying earlier, “It is very sad to end my career of 41 years after a traumatic incident like this.”

Mr Harris said, “The trust relationship between Untu and Prasa has broken down completely because the rail operator has no respect or empathy for its workers and ignores some of the basic principles of collective bargaining.

“Even our members in Transnet say they are prepared to join their colleagues in Prasa in industrial action to force the railway operator to adhere to basic rights afforded to all workers in our Constitution.”

Zino Mihi, corporate affairs manager for Prasa, told Northern News, “the incident is regrettable – Prasa condemns any acts of criminality within our operational system, more so the attacks of all staff.

“The affected staff (traumatised driver and family) will be attended to through the Employee Assistance Programme and given the full support they deserve.

“Furthermore, management will continue working with law enforcement agencies to curb crime in our system and remain committed to leave no stone unturned, she said.”

She was also quoted in the Daily Voice newspaper as saying that according to their statistics, Kraaifontein station was a “medium” risk for crime, and added that “arming train drivers was not part of Prasa’s plan to safeguard employees. As far as I could establish, there’s no policy that prohibits our employers from carrying licensed firearms.”

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed to Northern News that Mr Joubert “was attacked by four suspects while on his way to Kraaifontein railway station in an apparent attempt to robbed him.

“The circumstances surrounding the matter are being investigated and a death inquest case docket has been registered,” said Lieutenant Colonel Traut.