PRASA declines commenting on leaked Public Protector report

BY CHARL BOSCH - AUGUST 11, 2015

The Passenger Rail of Agency (PRASA) has refused to confirm allegations of financial maladministration after sections of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s provisional report, Missing Tracks, was published by the Sunday Times over the weekend.

According to the paper, the report, which was scheduled for release seven days ago, points to a number of incidents amounting to wasteful expenditure involving the rail provider’s now axed CEO, Lucky Montana.

These include the awarding of a tender, worth R1.1-billion, for the provision of high-speed gate access at stations even though the wrong procedures had been followed, his undertaking of unauthorised rides aboard the luxury Blue Train with female companions, spending R3.8-million on firing three executives improperly, and continuing to pay rent on an office in Braamfontein despite PRASA having vacated the premises 20 months before.

Montana, who was fired last month for contravening an agreement not to sign tenders and making comments about certain board members, has however denied being involved, describing his dismissal shortly afterwards as unfair, and that Chairperson Popo Molefe had been holding a vendetta against him.

In an interview with the paper, Molefe attributed the report’s delays to investigators discovering that Montana had withheld the subpoenas of 13 employees who were to submit claims against him to Madonsela, adding that they were willing to come forward after he had been fired.

“We have read about this in the paper that that was apparently the cause of the delay and postponement but we don’t know who those employees are,” PRASA Acting Spokesperson Sipho Sithole was quoted as saying.

He also added that Montana’s use of the Blue Train was surprising as it is owned by Luxrail, a division of state-owned Transnet Freight Rail (TFR).

The leaked findings also revealed that PRASA had been carrying out an investigation against one of its executives, Joseph Phungula, regarding the authenticity of his PhD.

A day after Montana’s dismissal, the rail provider announced that it had fired its Head of Engineering, Daniel Mtimkulu, for lying about obtaining an engineering degree at Wits as well as a PhD at unnamed German university.

Montana, who is also facing a charge of assault and malicious damage to property after hurling a brick at a journalist on Thursday and causing to damage to his staff vehicle, has remained mum on the leaked report.

 

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