Pretoria – It was former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board chairperson Popo Molefe and other former board members who over a period of time oversaw the collapse of the parastatal.
They in fact thwarted the efforts of former acting group CEO Collins Letsoalo in turning around the fortunes of the rail agency.
This is according to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, in a strong worded affidavit in which she responded to allegations made by Molefe and other former board members in which the are asking the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to order the minister to reinstate them as board members.
Her affidavit was officially filed with Judge Peter Mabuse on Thursday. He will on Friday hear the urgent application.
Peters accused the former board of fruitless and wasteful expenditure and she accused Molefe of paying himself R76 000 for each board meeting he attended.
She vehemently defended Letsoalo, whom she called a “corruption buster” and said after his appointment he has uncovered more corruption in the short space of time that he was at Prasa than the applicants, who have been sitting “on this rot for more than two years without any meaningful intervention.”
In referring to investigations launched by Molefe and the other former board members into corruption at Prasa, where they have appointed law firm Werkmans to conduct the criminal investigations, the minister said the firm had been paid up to now R127 million, which was not budgeted for. This she regarded as irregular expenditure.
She said the allegations that Letsoalo had increased his salary by 350% was simply not true. According to her he had nothing to do with what he was paid and that he was paid a salary applicable to his position as Acting Group CEO. “The salary that Prasa offered Mr Letsoalo befitted his position. It would have been anomalous for him to continue earning an amount of R1 358 868 per annum when his immediate subordinates at Prasa were earning in upwards of R4 million.”
The minister said it was clear that the total cost to company package for the Group CEO was standing at R5 986 140 per annum. According to her he was fully entitled to this package.
She accused Molefe and the other applicants of trying to mislead the court and the public by their allegations and in her strong worded affidavit she accused Molefe of being guilty of irregular expenditure.
The minister said under the watch of the applicants and before the appointment of Letsoalo, Prasa was in a state of collapse. She said it was in the public interest that she had to this week dissolve the board and bring in a new interim board in a bid to stabilize Prasa.
The minister said she wrote a letter to Molefe at the end of January this year, which reflected the increase in wasteful expenditure under his watch from R2.3 million in the first quarter, to R4.6 million in the second quarter.
She said in spite of assurances by the former board that it was in control, the irregular expenditure had exceeded R2.2 billion.
She said this “grim” picture caused her to appoint Letsoalo, who had in the past proved himself to be a corruption fighter. She also accused Molefe and the board for having ulterior motives for firing Letsoalo behind her back, as he was in fact uncovering more irregularities at Prasa.