On Thursday, Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape Provincial Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), laid charges against Metrorail at Cape Town Central Police Station. At issue is the worsening situation of train transport over the past 10 years.
COSATU is planning protest action and a national strike for 27 September.
"COSATU members depend on the trains and complain to us on a daily basis about the bad service. When the trains are late workers lose production. The loss of production also makes companies miss their deadlines and targets and this jeopardises orders," Ehrenreich told GroundUp.
In a press statement COSATU said: "The charges are for reckless endangerment of COSATU members and commuters on the trains" due to chronic overcrowding. It said overcrowding was created by Metrorail "selling tickets to people who they know they cannot accommodate" and by advertising a timetable Metrorail knew it had insufficient train sets to run. COSATU said this constituted criminal negligence on the part of Metrorail. COSATU drew an analogy with what would happen if more tickets than there were seats were sold for a match at a soccer stadium.
Spokesperson for Metrorail Riana Scott said: "PRASA/Metrorail will study the charges once laid. It then becomes a legal process that must follow due course."