An 11-year-old boy has allegedly been arrested by police for “inciting” his friends to join him jump onto moving train wagons, UNTU said.
Durban – An 11-year-old boy has allegedly been arrested by police for “inciting” his friends to join him jump onto moving train wagons, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) said on Monday.
The children were allegedly “playing” on Transnet trains on the northern line in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday and Saturday.
The leader of the group was arrested at his Ottowa home and charged at the Verulam police station after being identified by community members via video clips, according to UNTU.
The 11-year-old boy was released into the custody of his parents, who will have to appear in court with the child, according to UNTU general secretary, Steve Harris.
Police were unable to verify the child’s arrest at the time of publication.
“The gang [of young boys] is creating a serious safety risk,” said Harris.
“The children take advantage of the fact that the trains on this route must keep to a speed restriction of 15 km per hour as they are entering an area where pedestrians cross the railway line without looking or don’t realise the speed of the approaching train.”
According to recent figures in the State of Rail Safety Report issued by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), there have been 375 fatalities due to operational occurrences and 2 660 injuries due to operational occurrences in the previous financial year.
At the same time there was a 36% increase in fatalities due to safety related occurrences.
UNTU said that it disputed the figures and believed they only reflected “a fraction of the true state of rail safety”. Nevertheless, the statistics were still cause for great concern.
“Parents must teach their children that it is no joke playing near a railway line, not even to mention a moving train. These children are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of the train driver and the train assistant as they are forced to watch the children playing on the wagons instead of keeping their eyes on the railway lines and on the signals they are passing.
“To make matters worse, it is the train driver and the train assistant who will be charged if anything happens to the children, which puts their jobs in jeopardy. This is not even considering the emotional trauma the train driver and train assistant go through if they cannot prevent an injury,” said Harris.
He said the RSR should create awareness about train safety in schools and within local communities.
He also appealed to UNTU trains drivers to immediately report similar incidents to the union.
African News Agency (ANA)