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Ex-Prasa boss accuses parastatal of leaking letter to distract attention from problems

Ex-Prasa boss accuses parastatal of leaking letter to distract attention from problems

Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) CEO, Lucky Montana, has accused his former employer of leaking a letter written four years ago the media, describing it as an attempt to “cause confusion” and “divert attention away from the real problems” it faces.

His comments comes after the Sunday Times reported that the letter, penned in October 2012, states that the controversial Gupta family, President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane and their associates, had put pressure on him and then Transport Minister Ben Martins to accept a tender worth R51-billion from China South Rail (CSR), for the supply of 600 brand new passenger trains.

“PRASA leaked my letter of October 2012 published in the Sunday Times today. All I did was confirm [the] authenticity and contents of the letter,” Montana said on twitter.

“Many of my friends were congratulating me, thinking I released the letter. They honestly did not know that PRASA is the source of the leak. I am not the source of this letter to the Sunday Times”.

According to the paper, Montana, who was fired in July last year for tender irregularities, reportedly wrote the letter to the then Prasa board chairman Sfiso Buthelezi, after discovering that the department was in the process of submitting a memorandum to cabinet for the board to be re-arranged.

In the letter, Montana said he first met the Guptas and Duduzane in September of that year, when contacted to attend a meeting at Martin’s house before he was due to leave for a conference in Germany.

He said he was informed in Germany that the bidders were aware of the tender and that they were allowing for it to be postponed in order for the board to be restructured so as to ensure that the requirement of CSR and the Guptas are met.

Montana also alleged that a Gupta associate had warned the bidders at a meeting in Swaziland that they were not going to get the bid “unless you work with us”, and that he criticised both Rajesh Gupta and Duduzane when asked for a follow-up meeting at Martin’s house. He also admitted to rejecting the CV’s of two Gupta associates he was told to include among the bidders.

“I must also add that the Guptas have presented a plan that I and other people have been allocated shares within CSR, the plan which I rejected contemptuously in the presence of our minister,” the paper quoted Montana’s letter.

“I was taken aback and continue to be surprised by the fact that the representative of the said family finds such power, authority and audacity”.

Meanwhile, CityPress also claimed that Montana had ordered a former Prasa IT technician, who was described as his “go-to-IT-guy”, to his wipe his computer clean of “sensitive” documents after he had been sacked.

In an affidavit submitted in September last year, Othusitse Mogoelelwa, who was dismissed five months before, claimed Montana asked him to remove any documents from his computer and electronic devices before it was to be handed over to investigators. No documents were found although a “digital intelligence forensic kit” was discovered in an office Mogoelelwa has apparently used at Prasa’s head office in Pretoria.

“PRASA leaked letter found in my PRASA computer yet claim in another Newspaper that I ordered my "Go-to IT Guy" to clean sensitive documents,” Montana said in another tweet.

“The leaking of a letter I wrote almost 4 years ago was a cunning strategy to drive a wedge between myself and the political leadership”.

Mogoelelwa has however dismissed the deleting the documents at Montana’s behest.