Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry - February 24, 2021

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Zondo commission will continue to hear evidence relating to allegations of corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

Ryan Marc Sacks, the Director at Crowe Forensics SA (Pty) Ltd, is expected to take the stand.

The commission will also hear evidence from Tshwane Trust Co (Pty) Ltd liquidator Hannes Muller and Director of Swifambo Rail Auswell Mashaba.

On Tuesday, Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) chairperson Popo Molefe took a swipe at erstwhile transport minister Dipuo Peters’ claims that its board was responsible for the failure to appoint a permanent chief executive.

Molefe told the commission of inquiry into state capture that Peters’ assertion was disingenuous and false.

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He said the board wanted a permanent chief executive to be appointed even before Lucky Montana left the position in 2015 but instead let him identify a recruitment agency for the hiring of his replacement.

According to Molefe, the board wanted Montana to identify his successor as they considered the appointment of a permanent chief executive to be critical.

”We gave her a list of three names and the CVs of the candidates,” he said.

Molefe continued: “She was scraping the bottom of the barrel to find reasons for failing to appoint a CEO.”

He said the board discovered that Montana had played games with the previous board by making it clear that his intention to resign was due to a better offer and to get his salary increased.

”He probably expected the board to do the same thing,” Molefe said.

Molefe admitted that the board’s biggest mistake, that he now regrets, was to ask Montana to drive the process of finding his replacement.

He said with hindsight the board should have taken over the process after seeing no progress and accepted that the board did not move fast enough, for which it must be criticised.

”Whatever the [former] minister says she cannot justify leaving office without having appointed a CEO,” said Molefe.

He said the Prasa board he chaired wrote to Peters, who is now an ANC MP, in May 2016 informing her that the appointment of a permanent chief executive was an urgent matter and pleaded with her to expedite the process.

Molefe also defended his board as irregular expenditure increased from R100 million to R20 billion in the period Prasa did not have a permanent chief executive.

”I want to absolve the board from the ballooning irregular expenditure,” he explained.

Molefe said it was through the investigations by law firm Werkmans Attorneys launched by the board that the severity of the irregularities emerged.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the Prasa situation was difficult to understand or to explain how such an important organisation would be allowed to operate without a permanent chief executive for such a long time.

Evidence leader Advocate Vas Soni said the Werkmans Attorneys investigation led to the setting aside of contracts worth over R6bn.

Molefe also provided details about the difficulties the board he led encountered at Prasa.

He testified that the board was subjected to misinformation and misled by Montana that probity had been done on the R2.4bn Braamfontein depot project.

Some Prasa officials, Molefe added, interfered in the company, stole documents and deprived the board of information.

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Political Bureau

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