Politics / 2 September 2019, 07:44am / MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA
Johannesburg - The awarding of tenders for security services and forensic services will form part of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the affairs of Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).
This emerged in a schedule published in the Government Gazette published on Friday by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.
Lamola said the contracts and payments that would come under scrutiny include those that were not cost-effective, not in line with circulars issued by the National Treasury as well as unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The schedule come after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the SIU to conduct a probe into the affairs of Prasa.
In a proclamation published on Friday, Ramaphosa said allegations have been made in respect of the affairs of the Prasa.
“I deem it necessary that the said allegations should be investigated and civil proceedings emanating from such investigation should be adjudicated upon,” he said.
The investigations will cover the period between January 2010 until or after the proclamation was published.
Ramaphosa said the SIU investigation would examine allegations of serious maladministration and unlawful conduct by the state-owned entity’s (SOE’s) employees.
The probe will also extend into unlawful expenditure of public money or property, irregular transactions and offences that fall within the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
According to Ramaphosa, the investigative body should “exercise or perform all the functions and powers assigned to or conferred upon the said SIU by the Act, including the recovery of any losses suffered by Prasa or the state”.
Lamola said at the centre of the probe would be the procurement of security services and services for overhauling, repair of rails and infrastructure.
Lamola also said the investigation would cover an advanced early detection cable theft solution in the Bonteheuwel-Philippi Corridor in the Western Cape, travel management services, supply of mobile transporters and forensic services done by or on behalf of Prasa.
The SIU investigation comes a month after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula ordered newly-appointed head of department Alec Moemi’s immediate task to be the urgent implementation of interventions aimed at addressing challenges facing the state-owned entity.
Mbalula had said that he wanted Prasa to recover the billions of rand lost by Prasa when it procured locomotives for Shosholoza Meyl passenger rail service.
The Johannesburg High Court had made a finding on corruption and fronting, leading to the liquidation of the main contractor, Swifambo.
This after the court set aside a Swifambo Rail Leasing tender worth R3.5billion.
In June last year, former Transport minister Blade Nzimande likened Prasa to an ATM that was preoccupied with being sued by various service providers.
“Prasa, to me, has been like an ATM. Right now I’m sitting with a pile of things where people say they have contracts and have not been paid,” he said.
Nzimande had said that some of the litigation was not genuine and others seemed to be genuine.
“That’s is why I saw it as an ATM. You could not understand certain claims and disputes were not being defended. Sometimes it was because of internal disagreements within Prasa.”
In January this year, Nzimande had said that Prasa budgeted R72million for legal services for the current year.