No action has been taken against the officials - nearly four months after retired former acting chief executive Cromet Molepo tried to discipline the employees for misconduct for failing to declare their business partners’ lucrative contracts.
The dodgy deals were discovered during Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s audit of Prasa’s finances in the 2016/17 financial year.
Correspondence seen by Independent Media shows that in March Molepo told then interim board chairperson Xolile George the audit had identified 42 transactions totalling R87m in six Prasa divisions.
The officials include executives and general managers in Prasa Corporate, Rail, Technical, Corporate Real Estate Solutions, its investment company Intersite and intercity bus service Autopax.
However, Prasa claimed it had no knowledge of letters of suspension issued by Molepo to “any staff member and/or executives”.
“Prasa’s policy on conflict of interest requires workers to declare their interests. We encourage anyone with information to come forward,” it said.
The response followed Prasa chief executive Sibusiso Sithole referring Independent Media’s questions to the agency’s communications team despite some of its senior officials being among those issued with suspension letters.
National Transport Movement general secretary Ephraim Mphahlele said the union was aware of the suspension letters sent to executives and general managers for awarding tenders to their relatives. The union was told investigations were still ongoing, he said.
In his letter to the interim Prasa board - replaced a few days after it was constituted - Molepo said: “I have implemented consequence management to suspend the officials implicated and a disciplinary team must be established to deal with it.”
Molepo said he would have failed in his duties by not exercising his responsibilities, “especially considering that Prasa has been plagued by allegations of maladministration, fraud and corruption” at all levels.
”Failure to declare business interests is a serious offence it was also identified that your business associates failed to declare their interests with you in the standard bidding documents. It is therefore my prerogative to suspend you until investigation is concluded,” read Molepo’s letters.
He also instructed the officials not to obstruct or interfere with investigations by contacting any Prasa employee or tampering with the agency’s witnesses, and barred them from accessing work e-mails.
Prasa has also failed to present its 2016/17 annual reports with financial statements to Parliament since the September 30 deadline last year, as rules require.