Pretoria - The Road Accident Fund (RAF) chief executive head made several “misrepresentations” in his CV when he applied for the job, and no one bothered to check that at the time.
This is according to six law firms who are challenging Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s appointment of Collins Letsoalo as head of the RAF.
They will argue that his appointment was irrational and should be set aside.
The legal bid to have Letsoalo removed from his position was initiated by the firms last year. after they expressed frustration at the manner in which he handled payment claims for road accident victims.
The law firms want his appointment to be overturned because he is seen as a threat to the proper functioning of the RAF. They say he was appointed on false facts.
Kabelo Malao, of K Malao Incorporated, one of the applicants in the latest papers filed in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, said Letsoalo made false representations regarding his tenure as acting chief executive of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
He said the minister and the RAF simply ignored the facts regarding Letsoalo, which were in the public domain at the time of his appointment.
While the minister did file a record of what transpired when he appointed Letsoalo, Malao said the minister “ostensibly had the assistance of Mr Letsoalo in preparing the record”.
One of the “misrepresentations” Malao said that Letsoalo made to the recruitment agency was to say that he had turned the RTMC’s finances from a deficit to a surplus.
Malao said in his affidavit that under Letsoalo’s leadership as acting chief executive, the RTMC was not only lacking funds but closed permanently.
“His explanation of his short stay at Prasa is characterised by understatement. He effectively contends that there was a glitch with his salary.
“ He claims to have devised a turnaround strategy at Prasa. The record does not reflect this.”
Malao said Letsoalo had, since his arrival at the RAF last year, interfered in the leasing tenders of the headquarters in Centurion. Leasing contracts were cancelled and Letsoalo appointed his own service providers.
In referring to the fact that the RAF was the biggest litigator in the country, Malao said: “His lack of skill in litigation matters and his ostensible indifference to the chaos he has created also count against his appointment.”
Malao questioned the record regarding his appointment filed by the minister. Some of the information contained in it could not have been before the minister at the time. Apart from saying that there were documents included which dated after Letsoalo’s appointment, there was also an email “sent by Letsoalo to himself”.
“The inference is that the minister has requested Mr Letsoalo to provide documents which would justify his appointment after the fact.”
In referring to Letsoalo’s CV, which formed part of the documents on which he was appointed, Malao said it was “peppered with misrepresentations”.
He said that among his key achievements, Letsoalo claimed he had turned around Prasa while, in truth, he was dismissed by the board a few months after his appointment. The minister, one of the respondents in
Friday’s application, said in his opposing affidavit that Malao was relying on incorrect facts regarding Letsoalo’s working history to “create an atmosphere. The objective facts show that Letsoalo acted beyond reproach at these institutions and that some of the allegations against him were found to be untrue. This was ignored by the applicant,” Mbalula said.
He said the RAF had been without a permanent chief executive since 2017, despite numerous attempts to rectify that, which destabilised it and added to the woes of road accident victims.
Mbalula said the application to axe Letsoalo, whom he regarded as the best man for the job, was “self serving” on the part of the applicant law firms.
He said that before he appointed Letsoalo, he looked into his background and questioned certain issues.
But, in the end, he was satisfied with the answers he had received and had no doubt that Letsoalo was the correct choice. Mbalula said Letsoalo was the person to turn the fund around. “The fund was in a state of disrepair. It therefore requires a CEO who will successfully implement a new business model.”