On Friday in the Western Cape High Court, Judge Thandazwa Ndita ordered that PRASA pay the security companies it fired in November 2019. It also ordered PRASA to give the court reasons for its non-compliance with the court order set down by Judge President John Hlophe on 19 November 2019.
Earlier in the day, an agreement was reached between #UniteBehind and counsel for the Minister of Transport to postpone proceedings until 26 March. The hearing is an intervention application that sought to compel the Minister to report to the court on the development of PRASA’s comprehensive safety plan.
PRASA did not have any counsel present at the hearing.
During the hearing on 19 November, Minister Fikile Mbalula railed against the order, Hlophe, and the judiciary, saying: “Does he [Judge Hlophe] know how to run trains? He must ask himself that particular question before he makes himself a Mickey Mouse and turns our courts into something that must not be respected”.
On 22 November, PRASA’s attorneys asked the court for reasons for the order. Hlophe responded by asking for why it was necessary for him to provide reasons for his judgment, adding that if PRASA was not satisfied, they had leave to appeal the order.
PRASA did not file an application for leave to appeal. On 9 December 2019, the Minister appointed Bongisizwe Mpondo as PRASA Administrator. In a letter to the Administrator, #UniteBehind asked PRASA to comply with the order of court by 14 February 2020. On 19 February, PRASA’s attorneys of record filed notice of withdrawal. The absence of any representation today suggested that PRASA has not managed to hire new attorneys to represent them.
Advocate Adiel Nacerodien, for Sechaba, Chuma, and Supreme Security was granted a draft order to effect payment for money owed to the three security companies. Sechaba is owed R6.3 million, Chuma is owed R7.2 million, and Supreme is owed R7.9 million. Punitive costs were also granted, as was authority to grant a warrant of execution in the event of non-payment. The second part of the order asked PRASA to file an affidavit explaining why they have failed to comply with the Hlophe order.
Vusa-Isizwe Security, represented by Advocate Adam Brink, was granted leave to intervene in the matter, and was granted the same relief as the other applicants, barring the punitive cost order.
PRASA has seven court days to pay the outstanding amounts, and must report to the court on 27 March 2020 on their compliance with the order.
Disclosure: James Stent is formerly an activist with #UniteBehind (which campaigns for PRASA to be fixed), but now works as a journalist for GroundUp.