Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo: ANA.
Parliament - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula wants the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to recover more than R2 billion the state-owned entity lost when it procured locomotives for Shosholoza Meyl.

Addressing the media in Parliament on Wednesday, Mbalula said the procurement of the locomotives was exhausted in court with a finding on corruption and fronting, leading to the liquidation of the main contractor, Swifambo.

“This marks the end of a painful episode for Prasa, where a significant investment aimed at improving the Shosholoza Meyl service was to line their own pockets,” he said.

Mbalula also said the consequences would be dire for those responsible.

“Corruption and criminality will not go unpunished.

“In this regard, I expect the board of Prasa to urgently litigate to recover public funds from those it was paid to.”

He said Prasa should undertake to follow the money through litigation and all other means while the law took its course.

Mbalula made the statement when he announced the appointment of former Department of Sports and Recreation director-general Alec Moemi as head of the transport department.

“I have no doubt that Mr Moemi brings to the department experience, energy and drive that is necessary to a new service delivery model that places the people at the centre.”

He said Moemi’s immediate task was the urgent implementation of intervention aimed at addressing challenges facing Prasa.

“This intervention is driven through a steering committee and ministerial war room which will play an oversight and enabling role over the turnaround strategy.”

Mbalula said the intervention would focus on rolling stock availability and reliability, safety management and acceleration of the modernisation programme. He stated that he has tasked Moemi with developing a policy on safety and security in public transport.

“This policy must be produced as a matter of urgency. This exercise must lead to direct in-sourcing or at least 80% of security personnel by Prasa.

These security officers must receive their basic training from SAPS and I have discussed this with Minister (of Police Bheki) Cele.”

He said they would work to create a multiplier force in the trains.

“We move ahead to ensure trains will be policed, our trains will be safe and our people will feel safe to use trains.”

Mbalula also said they were still handling the issue of resolving the question of e-tolls in Gauteng as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. “We are confident that we will meet the end of August deadline to place on the table a viable option on how to resolve the challenges facing us insofar as e-tolls are concerned.”

He said they would not resolve issues through populism, but wanted to look at all options.

Asked about the pending strike at Prasa, Mbalula said he was unaware how many people would be involved in the industrial action but they were working with Prasa to address any anomaly should the strike degenerate.

“That will entail, among other things, to ensure there is nobody intimidated in collaboration with the SAPS.”

Asked about former president Jacob Zuma’s testimony at the Zondo commission, Mbalula said he was prepared to testify at the commission should he be required.

“What I will not do is to run a parallel process. It is advisable not to speak on Twitter on anything else,” he said, adding he’d rather speak under oath.

Political Bureau