Former Western Cape rail boss Mthuthuzeli Swartz appeared in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court on charges of fraud and money-laundering. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/ANA Archives
Cape Town - Former Western Cape rail boss Mthuthuzeli Swartz has been released on bail after appearing in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court on charges of fraud and money-laundering involving 200 tons of steel railway tracks.

The case against Swartz, also a former acting chief executive of rail at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), emanates from an incident in 2013 when the police and the Transnet Specialised Investigation Unit confiscated 200 tons of railway tracks.

The steel tracks were cut into pieces of 6m each and already placed in containers ready to be shipped abroad at the Port of Durban.

It was alleged that Swartz signed a contract with a private company to remove 18km of the railway track between Ugie and Elliot to the value of R60million.

The former railway boss was accompanied by his attorney on a visit to the Specialized Commercial Crime Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) earlier this week, where he was arrested.

He was later released on bail of R2000 and must appear in court again on February 27.

The United National Transport Union (Untu) said that it was grateful to finally see the law taking its course in the first high-level prosecution.

Untu general secretary Steve Harris said the union believed in the constitutional principle that justice must be seen to be done.

“It is time that South Africans take hands and protect our rail infrastructure that provides the cheapest form of transport to the poorest of the poor and that is the cheapest means of transporting goods and commodities from our ports.

“Prasa and Transnet are state-owned enterprises funded with taxpayers’ money,” added Harris.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said Swartz was dismissed from the agency in 2017.

Efforts to contact Swartz for comment have proved unsuccessful. 

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