CAPE TOWN – As former directors of the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa), we note the press conference held by the agency’s former acting CEO Mr Collins Letsoalo on Monday 17 December 2018.
At the outset, we would like to dismiss Mr Letsoalo’s absurd and libelous accusations against the former Prasa board of directors and its chairperson, Dr Popo Molefe with contempt. Our rights are reserved in this regard.
During his sensational press conference, Mr Letsoalo said that he would seek legal damages from Prasa and Dr Molefe in his personal capacity for his removal from the Prasa acting CEO position in 2017. We have thoroughly dealt with this matter in the past and believe that if Mr Letsoalo still believes he has further recourse on the issue, he should take action accordingly.
But due to the risk of the public being deceived, we feel obligated to state and clarify the facts as thus:
- Mr Letsoalo was seconded to the position of Prasa acting CEO for a period of six months by former Transport Minister Dipuo Peters. Upon his arrival, Mr Letsoalo was duly welcomed by Dr Molefe;
- Mr Letsoalo’s appointment as acting CEO happened immediately after Mr Nathi Khena vacated the position, which then automatically meant the same remuneration conditions as per the company policy with respect to the acting CEO applied accordingly;
- Mr Letsoalo’s appointment letter – as he is fully aware – stated that he would be remunerated as per Prasa’s policy prescripts as they relate to the position of an acting CEO, which is not that of a permanent CEO;
- At the time Mr Lestoalo was released as Prasa acting CEO, the six-month period he was appointed for had lapsed and the board of directors decided not to extend his acting tenure for a further six months;
- Following the decision of the board, Minister Peters proceeded to illegally disband the board. The directors challenged her decision in court as we believed her decision was irrational and unlawful.
- The courts duly agreed with the Prasa board of directors and found in its favour. It is in the course of this application that Mr Letsoalo’s affidavit relating to the matter of the salary increase found its way as part of the Minister’s responding submission. Mr Letsoalo’s issue was never part of the court application against the Minister’s decision to dissolve the Prasa board.
Had Mr Letsoalo’s salary increase matter been submitted as a separate application, the board would have directly responded to that application with the facts as outlined in Prasa’s company policy;
Given these facts as they relate to the non-extension of Mr Letsoalo’s term as Prasa acting CEO, we find it rather outrageous that he has chosen to impugn the good name of the former directors by insinuating that they had ulterior and sinister motives when removing him from the position.
While on his misinformation crusade, Mr Letsoalo misled the public through his unsubstantiated and damaging accusations of a Prasa board that enabled corruption and the looting of public funds under the leadership of Dr Molefe.
Mr Letsoalo deliberately fails to mention and acknowledge that our board presided over an organization in disarray and on the brink of collapse. The myriad of operational dysfunctions which he mentions were supplied to him in investigation reports prepared prior to his brief secondment as Prasa act CEO.
It is therefore foolhardy for Mr Letsoalo to falsely claim that during his brief stint as the Prasa acting CEO, he had uncovered gross mismanagement which, he claims, ultimately led to his removal from the position in 2017. The information Mr Letsoalo refers to was the collective result of several forensic investigations conducted by the Public Protector, the Auditor-General and the Prasa board.
We further find it astonishing and gravely concerning that Mr Letsoalo openly speaks of acts of criminality which he uncovered during his tenure as Prasa CEO which he feels would be better suited as a chapter in a book he seeks to write rather than open criminal cases with the police. As the acting CEO at the time of uncovering any form of corruption at Prasa, Mr Letsoalo had a legal obligation to report the criminality to law enforcement agencies. Failure to do so is a crime in itself.
Our board was faced with the difficult task of deconstructing an intricate web of corruption and mismanagement over many years, at a massive cost to the taxpayer and the thousands of MetroRail commuters who rely on the trains to travel to and from their places of work safely and on time.
We stand firm that pursuing irregular and corrupt contracts is not only important, but necessary as it is the taxpayer’s money being looted.
The North Gauteng High Court ruling agreed with our position and found that the R3 billion Swifambo Rail contract to acquire the new trains under the leadership of the former CEO, was corrupt and should be cancelled accordingly. This is just but one of the many examples of wrongdoing that the directors sought to correct, which, Mr Letsoalo seems to disagree with.
We would like to encourage the current board of directors at Prasa to continue undeterred in their difficult task of bringing stability to Prasa, which includes following up on the criminal cases that are before the Hawks.
Content supplied by Prasa former directors.
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