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Train fire victim to take Metrorail to court

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A 42-year-old mother from Cape Town is planning on taking Metrorail to court after she sustained third-degree burns and lung damage when the train she was travelling in was set on fire last month.

Leigh Jansen was on a train travelling between the Ottery and Southfield train stations on her way to work when she became a victim of an alleged arson attack that claimed the life of another commuter.

Ursula Schenker, Jansen’s mother, spoke to News24 shortly after her daughter underwent her second skin graft procedure on Tuesday.

“I believe this crime is opportunistic and by removing the opportunity, you alleviate crime,” she said.

“If Metrorail was customer-service orientated, it would have made sense for them to secure their line and if the perimeter was breached they would have a starting point of entry. Metrorail violated Leigh’s sense of security – stealing her joy.”

Metrorail spokesperson Zino Mihi said that the company was not aware of any legal claims against it.

Son scared of mom’s face

Jansen’s recovery has not only been a physical challenge, but also an immensely emotional one.

“I’m doing okay since my second skin graft surgery, but the damage to my neck is quite bad,” she said.

“My son won’t visit me in the hospital. He’s scared of my face. I’m hoping he’ll come around.”

Schenker said that Jansen, a fuel scheduler from Southfield, was on her way to work on the Foreshore when the train was engulfed in flames.

“No one can understand why she took that train. She normally takes the Plumstead (southern) line but because she heard it was undergoing repairs, she took the [Cape Flats] line,” Schenker said.

“She was actually the one who alerted the train driver about the fire. The driver heard her screams and stopped the train.”

Schenker added that when Jansen attempted to escape, it was discovered that the exits were locked. Fortunately, she was able to jump out of the window.

An inquest docket has been opened at Grassy Park police station and no arrests have been made.

Call for improved security, communication

It is one of four arson attacks on Metrorail trains reported in recent weeks.

On Sunday, three train carriages were allegedly torched by protesters in Philippi.

The South African National Civil Organisation (Sanco) called on Metrorail to provide a safer and more reliable service.

“Metrorail must improve communication and security of its trains. In case of delays, commuters must be told what is the problem, how long it is going to take to fix it and efforts to resolve it expedited,” Sanco spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said.

He also appealed to Metrorail to be more accountable to rail users and more responsive to their needs.

[source: News24]
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