Parliament - Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi has revealed that four Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) employees have been identified as awarding contracts worth over R100mln to companies whose directors they have a connections with.
In a reply to a parliamentary question published on Monday, Maswanganyi said the employees, Sonwabile Kondlo, a senior engineer at Prasa Tech, Maishe Bopape, a senior manager in the supply chain management at Prasa Rail, Nongabisaya Mareko, an executive manager, and Carol Shabalala, a senior manager, were directly involved in the procurement of services while they had a conflict of interest.
"Prasa has discovered that certain employees were conflicted with regards to certain contracts," the minister said.
In Kondlo's case, according to the parliamentary reply, Batalala Construction CCC was awarded a R8.6 million contract in the 2014/15 financial year to "construct new drainage at the Pretoria and Barrack stations".
Kondlo and the directors or Batalala are partners in another firm, Tenemane Engineers CC, as directors.
"The employee was involved in the process of evaluating the award of the bid," the reply said.
Bopape had recommended and supported the appointment of Mabule Rail and Infrastructure (PTY) LTD to carry out ad-hoc repairs, call outs and technical support for rail infrastructure. The contract, awarded in the 2015/16 financial year, was worth R50 million. Bopape and the supplier were partners in Taboo Trading 154 as directors.
Mareko, by virtue of her position as executive manager, had involvement in the appointment of Mbokodo to carry out ad-hoc work, including repairs, call outs and technical support for Prasa rolling stock, Prasa Rail and Shosholoza Meyl. The contract was valued at R22 million.
"The employee and the supplier director are partners in BNM Funerals as directors," according to information in the parliamentary reply.
Shabalala was involved in the evaluation of a request for information submissions for the development of the "Women in Rail database". A R20 million contract was awarded to Women in Motion Investments (PTY) LTD.
According to records provided to the transport department, Shabalala was involved in a partnership with the company's director at Evilox 372.
Both the contracts to Mbokodo and Women in Motion Investments were awarded in 2015/16.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), which submitted the question to Maswanganyi, described the revelations as a "gross abuse of power".
DA MP Manny de Freitas said they will push for urgent disciplinary steps to be taken against the Prasa employees involved.
"More than R100 million has been irregularly awarded as a result - these contracts should be immediately cancelled and all attempts must now be made to recover the money," said de Freitas.
"Public funds that could have been used to uplift millions of impoverished South Africans were shamelessly disbursed to public servants involved in the very tender process themselves. This is unacceptable and is a flagrant abuse of the public trust which is placed in employees of the State."