PRASA report once again delayed, Montana confident of being cleared

BY CHARL BOSCH - AUGUST 3, 2015

Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) CEO, Lucky Montana, has indicated he remains confident that an investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela would acquit of corruption charges.

According to a weekend CityPress article, Montana, who was fired from the rail service provider three weeks ago for contravening an agreement not to sign tenders, said the authorisation of bids over R100-million was the mandate of board members and didn’t include his involvemnet.

PRASA had been the subject of intense scrutiny after newspaper reports discovered that its R600-million Afro 4000 diesel locomotives exceeded imposed height limits on sections with overhead wires.

“As group chief executive, you can only authorise tenders of between R25-million and R100-million. Anything above that goes to the board, with its own processes, for approval,” Montana said, a day after opening criminal charges against Chairperson Popo Molefe last week.

Speaking to the paper, Montana alleged that his axing was mainly due to not approving the payment of R58-million into an account belonging to a company that sponsored a golf day in April on behalf of Molefe’s foundation.

He also stated that further allegations included hiring his cousin Stephan Ngobeni, instructing the payment of R80-million for PRASA to be a sponsor during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and causing a loss of R2-billion on certain projects.

“Ngobeni joined Metrorail in 1995, 11 years before I joined PRASA. We never paid FIFA a cent, and there was no such loss to PRASA of R2-billion,” Montana said, adding that he handed over as much proof to Madonsela as possible.

“We should ask Madonsela what PRASA gave her [as proof] and what those who made the allegations gave her. They couldn’t support a single one of those allegations and I’ve given her files. But I’m going to rely on her sense of fairness”.

Madonsela’s office has meanwhile indicated that the report, secluded for release tomorrow, has been delayed following the receiving of submissions tabled after Montana’s dismissal.

It has also been claimed that Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, had asked Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, to investigate reports of financial mismanagement following the disappearance of R17-million and accounting errors adding up to R4-billion, of which R790-million amounted to irregular expenditure.

“I have been in consultation with the board and senior management of PRASA in the past weeks. I have asked several questions, the responses of which largely inform my decision,” News24 quoted Peters as saying.

“It is worth noting that the Auditor-General’s office has previously produced reports regarding financial management at PRASA. I have thus requested the Auditor-General’s office to look into those past reports and immediately attend to identified areas of concern”.

 

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