JOHANNESBURG, August 2 – The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) on Wednesday called on acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba, to urgently intervene and order the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) to come clean about the progress of investigations into alleged corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
This comes after Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, allegedly confirmed in writing to Fedusa’s affiliate in the passenger transport sector, the United National Transport Union (Untu), that investigations into allegations pertaining to Prasa were continuing but that the Hawks were not obliged to go into the details.
In 2015 then public protector, Thuli Madonsela, found that Prasa failed to comply with its own supply-chain policy. She found widespread maladministration and impropriety in the awarding of contracts worth R2.6 billion.
Last month, the North Gauteng High Court reviewed and set aside Prasa’s 2013 controversial contract for new locomotives with little-known company, Swifambo Rail Leasing, as it was mired in controversy after the Afro 4000 locomotives were declared unsuitable for local rail lines.
Untu general secretary, Steve Harris, said two years have passed since Madonsela released her report titled “Derailed” in which she found widespread evidence of maladministration, improper conduct and nepotism.
“However, up until now no individuals have been brought before the courts,” Harris said in a statement.
“On 6 June 2017, Untu wrote a letter to Lieutenant-General Mothiba asking him for feedback on the Hawks investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption at Prasa after the now former Prasa board alleged that the Hawks refused to investigate the allegations. Despite several reminders, Lieutenant-General Mothiba has not responded to Untu’s letter.”
Outgoing Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe has accused former and current Transport Ministers of undermining the board’s ability to do proper investigations into the Derailed report.
In the most recent turn of events, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) filed an application at the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday to intervene in a case aimed at prosecuting those who siphoned off about R5.4 billion in railway contracts at Prasa.
Prasa’s former chief financial officer, Fenton Gastin, has already been ordered to pay back just over R8.2 million he received in terms of invalidated contracts signed by the agency’s former chief executive, Lucky Montana.
“It was the Board of Prasa who approached the court to successfully set aside the Swifambo contract amounting to approximately R2.6 billion,” Harris said.
“UNTU would once again appeal to the SAPS and the NPA to stop undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system in South Africa by simply irrespectively arresting and prosecuting the culprits without the Courts ordering them to do so.”
– African News Agency (ANA)