Prasa’s former chief executive Lucky Montana. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Prasa’s former chief executive Lucky Montana. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Lucky Montana is a liar, pair he blamed for corrupt locomotive deal tells Zondo commission

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Jun 2, 2021

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Johannesburg - Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) employees Martha Ngoye and Tiro Holele have denied allegations that they were at the heart of a corrupt multi-billion rand deal for the procurement of locomotives.

Prasa’s former chief executive Lucky Montana previously made lengthy submissions to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that Ngoye and Holele were to blame for the R3.5 billion Swifambo contract.

In the 2013 deal, Swifambo Rails was awarded the R3.5 billion tender for the procurement of locomotives. Prasa paid R2.6 billion of the contract, but only 13 of 88 locomotives were delivered and they were too tall for local infrastructure.

This deal remains one of the most explosive deals to come out of Montana’s tenure as group chief executive.

He denied approving the Swifambo deal and told the commission that the board approved it upon recommendation from the Bid Adjudication Committee on which he alleged Holele and Ngoye sat on.

However, Holele and Ngoye yesterday told the commission that they were never part of any such meeting and that the “so-called” minutes of the meeting, placing them there, were fabricated.

Both Ngoye and Holele claimed Montana lied to the commission about his alleged disciplinary actions against them; his lack of signing powers on deals of more than R100 million and their alleged involvement in the corrupt contracts.

Holele said Montana had a “dictatorial approach to leadership” that was borderline paranoia. He said Montana was one of the many leaders who bullied employees if they did not follow his shady instructions.

“People at the top of the command chain do this. They did it during apartheid and they are doing it right into democracy.

“They say no, I'm not involved in procurement at my level. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they commandeer the very process. They threaten employees, they bully them, they demote them, they fire them, they send a message to the system that says if you don't do what I communicate privately that I need to be done, the fate that has befallen these deviant ones is going to befall you.

“And then they don't leave their fingerprints at the crime scene, and they will come here and proudly say at my level, I'm not involved in procurement,” Holele said.

Montana claimed that there was no way he could have approved the lucrative locomotive deal as his signing powers were limited to only approving matters below R100 million.

However, Ngoye presented a memo dated a year after the Swifambo deal was signed, showing Montana’s signature of approval on a sale of purchase agreement amounting to R335 million.

“This did not even go to the board but Montana approved it. It is way above his delegated authority of R100 million yet he told the commission that he doesn’t do such things but here is an example,” Ngoye said.

She raised serious concerns about other aspects of Montana’s evidence, saying that in some cases, it triggered her to contact the lead independent member of the board and the company secretary to verify his allegations.

“The company secretary says no that never happened and no that is not true.

“It is not fair, chairperson. I don’t come to the commission to lie,” she told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

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