Passenger rail agency of South Africa (Prasa)’s alleged corruption investigation is expected to continue despite the R148 million that may have to be disclosed as unauthorised expenditure. The directorate for priority crime investigation (HAWKS) was last year asked by the state- owned company Prasa to probe 142 cases in relation to irregular and wasteful expenditure.
Prior to the investigation, Prasa faced Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). The organisation had to account to the committee for the R24 billion in irregular and fruitless expenditure that was incurred.
According to Transport minister, Joe Maswanganyi there were a number of investigators and law enforcement agencies‚ including Treasury and the Hawks‚ that were investigating allegations of wrongdoing at Prasa following the report of the public protector‚ entitled Derailed.
"These agencies will continue to do so even if the said law firm’s services were to be terminated by the board‚" Maswanganyi said.
The minister was replying to a question by DA transport spokesman Manny de Freitas‚ who had wanted to know whether the investigation had been terminated.
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In the reply, it was said that there was "no record of the minister terminating the services of the law firm that was appointed by the board to investigate the findings of the public protector. However‚ the minister wrote a letter to the board to raising concerns about the procurement process followed as well as the long time it was taking to undertake the investigation.
De Freitas said that the investigation was worthwhile and should continue‚ and that the R148 million was a small amount in relation to the billions of rand in procurement irregularities that were being uncovered.
Meanwhile, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) had demanded immediate resignation of Richard Walker, Prasa regional manager in the Western Cape. The Union said that Walker’s incompetence was costing the South African taxpayer billions.
On Monday night, furious commuters had torched train coaches, after they had to wait more than four hours in the freezing cold and rainy conditions to get a ride home.
UNTU general Secretary, Steve Harris said the trains on the platform of the Cape Town Station was stranded from about 14:00 on Monday afternoon because Metrorail, the commuter passenger rail division of Prasa, experienced electrical power feeds difficulties. Four feeds were unavailable and the remaining two feeds were overloaded. This resulted in the electricity tripping and halting trains all over the network.
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