Molefe reveals plan to fire Prasa board at State Capture Inquiry
Johannesburg - Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe has told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture there was an alleged campaign to fire Prasa's board and stop an investigation into corruption at the rail agency.
Molefe took the stand on Monday as the Zondo inquiry is currently probing corruption allegations at Prasa.
He told the commission that in 2015/2016 his board had come under immense political pressure because of its decision to unravel and investigate irregular contracts that had been awarded at Prasa. Molefe's board had been appointed in 2014.
The board had instituted an inquiry and hired Werksmans law firm to investigate possible irregular contracts awarded by the agency through its former chief executive Lucky Montana.
He said when the decision to investigate the matters was decided, then transport minister Dipuo Peters supported the move.
He said Peters grew unhappy with the investigation in 2016 and wrote to the board asking the investigation be finalised.
Molefe read from an August 2016 letter addressed to him from Peters.
Peters had raised concerns over the costs of the investigation and the lack of results.
Molefe said he wrote to the minister on August 24, 2016, motivating for the investigation to continue asit had uncovered several incidents of irregular contracts.
Molefe told the commission he saw this as an attempt to try and halt the probe.
In another incident, Molefe said the minister had delayed on deciding on a group chief executive for Prasa following the departure of Montana in July 2015. The board had recommended a Metrorail executive to takeover, but Peters had not decided on the candidate.
Molefe said instead, Peters chose to appoint former Department of Transport executive Collins Letsoalo as acting chief executive.
When Lestoalo took over, Molefe said he grew unhappy with the Werksmans investigation.
The tension between Prasa's board and Peters culminated in the board's removal in March 2017. Molefe said Peters was under pressure to fire the board from certain MPs.
He said the board was alerted to their removal from a parliamentary appearance by the director-general from the department of transport. He said they were never warned of the removal.
"She reached a point where she had to pander to the demands of the committee. There was a clear message sent that the board and the chairperson were not wanted there. The dismissal of the board was discussed somewhere else and was then made in such a way as to embarrass the board," Molefe said.
Molefe said Peters had raised concerns the board was not performing its duties, but he insisted they could not do so because they had no proper management.
So far, Prasa has had no permanent chief executive in the past five years, Molefe told the inquiry. The agency also has had no proper board since Molefe's board was removed.
The commission's chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said it was concerning that Prasa had had no permanent chief executive or board.
The inquiry continues.