Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday launched a scathing attack on Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe following his ruling against Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) earlier this month.
The broad strokes of the dispute centred on Prasa terminating security company contracts “without the finalisation of an alternative contract” thereby putting passenger safety at risk.
Judge Hlophe ruled that Prasa must continue the security contracts until the new tender is finalised or alternative measures are put in place, including an interim security plan within a month.
While Mbalula was addressing a media contingent at the Cape Town train station on Thursday, he was asked for a reaction on the ruling.
“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,” Mbalula charged.
“Our courts must be respected … including the people who run those particular courts.”
The minister then changed his tone midway through his response: “I will never look away from a decision of the court,” he said, defending his stance.
“If the courts say we must implement the decision to bring the security companies back, the board must take that decision … we either implement or challenge those decisions,” he said.
Mbalula was at the train station to inspect the trains which were badly damaged during an early morning blaze.
Two trains caught alight in the early hours of the morning, one at Platform 10 and the other at Platform 16.
Metrorail said the fire soon spread to adjacent platforms, destroying two full trains and 18 carriages.
No injuries were reported.