Johannesburg - Just when it looked like the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) had made it through a gauntlet of scandals, more controversy has surfaced, implicating top management.
Axed chief executive Lucky Montana has made damning allegations against the parastatal and a contractor affiliated with them, claiming that the relationship between them has resulted in fraud amounting to close to R200 million.
It was for this reason, as well as blackmail, harassment and corruption, that he opened a case at Hillbrow police station on Thursday against Prasa chairman Popo Molefe, two other executives at the state-owned enterprise and two officials from SA Fence and Gate, which was hired to install security fences.
Montana, who claims he was unfairly dismissed earlier this month as he wanted to investigate the contractor, told reporters outside the police station that he awarded the contract to SA Fence and Gate in 2012, and problems began to emerge the next year.
He said the company didn’t deliver the quality of material they had promised. Prasa paid the contractor about R31m for lights, as they claimed they were imported.
“However, investigations claim this was not the case because I also visited site and the material was not what we were promised,” he said.
Also, earlier this year, SA Gate and Fence sponsored a golf day hosted by Molefe at Sun City.
Montana questioned the relationship between the chairman and the company, and when he questioned his superior, he was dismissed as Prasa chief executive.
He claims Prasa management fear that if he investigates the contract awarded to SA Gate and Fence, what he uncovers could harm the parastatal and Molefe’s reputation.
Montana again defended Daniel Mtimkulu, the former head of engineering at Prasa, describing him as “a genius”.
“He has made contributions to Prasa and was a young and transformative leader.”
The enterprise charged Mtimkulu, who has since resigned, with gross dishonesty and fraudulent misrepresentation after he allegedly lied about his qualifications.
Despite admitting that Mtimkulu had a case to answer to, he said that if Prasa wanted to go after him, it should use the same “zealousness” to investigate the SA Fence and Gate contract.
Montana said Molefe had “blackmailed” Mtimkulu to give him damning information about him, but he refused and informed the axed chief executive about the incident.
The Star has seen texts on Montana’s phone, allegedly from Molefe to Mtimkulu, where the chairman calls for a meeting with the former engineer to “deal with matters”, and if these weren’t resolved, Molefe said: “I will make your issues worse but I need things to nail Montana.”