Prasa, NTM draw legal battle lines

A legal battle between the Prasa and union NTM is looming, following allegations of sabotage.

Emergency personnel at the scene of a train crash in Atteridgeville on 31 January 2013. Picture: Netcare.

JOHANNESBURG - A legal battle between the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the National Transport Movement (NTM) is looming, after the parastatal laid criminal charges against the union, accusing it of sabotage.

Prasa rail operations CEO Mosenngwa Mofi this week accused the union of setting alight trains in Gauteng, during their on-going strike.

Metrorail employees affiliated to NTM have been on strike for almost two weeks now, protesting to get better recognition by employers.

Mofi also said the agency suspected NTM was involved in the theft of cables, which led to a train crash that left 300 people injured on Thursday.

The line disruption resulted into one passenger train crashing into the rear end of another near the Kalafong Station in Atteridgeville.

NTM now says it plans to take counter legal action against Prasa for making the allegations.

The union's president, Ephraim Mphahlele, said it was ridiculous to accuse his union of being behind the torching of trains and cable theft.

"Those are malicious allegations. We have consulted with our lawyers for legal opinion on that. We will then in all likelihood take legal action against Mr Mofi and Prasa."

But Prasa has called on police to investigate Mphahlele's role in the vandalism, and if the union can be linked to Thursday's train crash.

NTM has now hit back at Prasa, accusing it of trying to cover-up the truth about the accident.