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On Tuesday 19 November, #UniteBehind successfully applied to be amicus curiae in the matter between PRASA and Sechaba Security and others. This, after PRASA cancelled the use of private security on trains and stations across the country with immediate effect, and without a suitable plan for the provision of security services for the present moment. This irrational decision placed commuters rail workers and infrastructure at much worse risk than before.

 

This case was before Judge President Hlophe, who ruled in favour of the security companies and #UniteBehind. Judge President Hlophe accepted #UniteBehind’s submissions relief.

 

In doing so, PRASA must continue to use private security until they can show that they have a plan to ensure the safety of commuters, workers and infrastructure. Further, PRASA must continue to use the private security companies until they have either completed a replacement tender process, or completed a process to insource the provision of security guards.

 

This structural interdict, or court-supervised order, means that PRASA must deliver an interim commuter-centred safety plan approved by the Railway Safety Regulator within a month – a goal of #UniteBehind’s for more than two years.

 

With this ruling, PRASA’s self-defeating Board and executive has been put on notice that they cannot endanger the lives of commuters on their way to placing PRASA back on track.

 

Despite asking for the temporary reinstatement of the security contracts #UniteBehind stands by its position that these contracts extended over many years without tenders are unlawful. We also stand by the argument that PRASA and the companies have failed to ensure that security guards do their work adequately. We will seek to work with PRASA and the Rail Safety Regulator to ensure that the interim plan is one that protects all people including employees and assets even as it places vulnerable commuters such as women, children and people with disabilities first.

 

#UniteBehind is thankful to Advocate Naefa Kahn and Mr Ben Prinsloo from Matthewson Gess Attorneys for their work on this and other PRASA matters.