As many as three private security companies have come forth threatening to take the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to court in Cape Town, after their contracts were terminated, allegedly without notice.
According to the Cape Times, about 1 100 security personnel who were deployed to safeguard train drivers, commuters and rail infrastructure along the northern, southern and central lines in Cape Town, are now unemployed.
The security companies do not want to be named for fear of further intimidation against their employees but have said the following:
“A new tender for private security services for Prasa was issued in April 2019. This tender was meant to be fully operational as of July. In the meantime, while the new tender was being operationalised, Prasa would make use of the existing service provider, which is us.
However, the new tender was not finalised by July and Prasa issued month-to-month extensions letters to the service providers. The letters would come in advance, indicating there was an extension to the upcoming month,” the companies jointly said.
The extension letters allegedly came for the months of August, September and October, however, nothing has been received for November.
Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani, said other security staff had assumed the jobs since Friday 1 November 2019 and were being supported by rail police.
“This is an interim measure while a permanent legal solution is being sought. The entire security cluster is activated to support Prasa during this transition period. Prasa is busy with engagements with all staff on the matter and is developing the appropriate contingency measures with available staff to mitigate all security risks. Prasa is in the process of settling all outstanding payments.
The contracts were terminated after Prasa exhausted its internal process for the security tender. Further extensions could not be considered because the contracts were declared unlawful and irregular by the public protector. A decision was therefore taken to terminate the contracts to end the tenure of irregular and unlawful security contracts,” Zenani said.
Zenani confirmed the date for termination was 31 October and letters were issued to the respective companies a month in advance.
“Last Friday, 1 November, security personnel had worked. At about 17:00 each company received a call from a Prasa representatives ordering that we should stop rendering services at all sites by midnight. We requested that the termination be provided in writing, but we have not received anything to date.”
The service providers said due to the “extremely short notice” and a lack of formal communication, they were uncertain as to how to proceed.
The companies’ on Monday 4 November gave Prasa until the end of business hours to respond to a letter from their lawyers.