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Prasa busy rooting out 3 000 ghost workers on its payroll

In this archive picture, Prasa workers can be seen unloading of 1 of 4 additional AFRO4000 diesel series locomotives. PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) is seeking to reduce travel time, provide comfort, reliability and improve efficiency with these new locomotives. Picture: David Ritchie

In this archive picture, Prasa workers can be seen unloading of 1 of 4 additional AFRO4000 diesel series locomotives. PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) is seeking to reduce travel time, provide comfort, reliability and improve efficiency with these new locomotives. Picture: David Ritchie

Published Feb 1, 2022

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THE Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has since 2020 paid salaries to more than 3 000 ghost workers registered as permanent employees in their system.

This was revealed by the new Prasa board when it briefed the media about its plans to root out corruption, which has plagued it over many years.

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The situation worsened when criminals started destroying train stations and rail networks while the country was under Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane and board member advocate Smanga Sethene told the media that their board, which was appointed in October 2020, had conducted Operation Ziveze (Show Up).

They said they were told that the agency had a workforce of 17 000, but during the operation, only 14 000 employees showed up with the necessary qualifications and confirmed their employment.

Both Ramatlakane and Sethene said they also did a sample with Home Affairs, who confirmed that at least 50 foreign nationals with fake South African IDs were employed by Prasa.

“We only have 14 000 employees. We can’t account for 3 000 of them. They didn't bring their qualifications to allow us to pay their salaries. Some of the people used fake South African IDs to gain employment. We can't verify their nationalities.

“We want to conduct investigations into who has been getting paid these monies all along,” Sethene said.

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However, those that confirmed their qualifications, the media heard, will have to undergo a criminal vetting system to ascertain if they have criminal records.

“This is our process to clean Prasa. We are not going to tolerate corruption,” Ramatlakane said.

He also revealed that the Special Investigating Unit had ordered Prasa to take disciplinary action against 44 of their officials for their role in the awarding of a multi-billion rail contract to Shifamba Rail, which produced oversized trains for South Africa’s rail system.

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Ramatlakane added they could only take action against 33 of them, as 11 had resigned before the delivery of the SIU report.

“We are now in the process of consequence management. They will face charges of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and contravention of the supply chain management procedure,” Ramatlakane said.

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