Parliamentary vote to dismiss Prasa board was unanimous, court hears

2017-03-17 20:10
Prasa. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Prasa. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pretoria - The parliamentary portfolio committee on transport unanimously voted for the dismissal of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Friday.

This after former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe and other executives brought an urgent application challenging the minister's decision to dissolve the board, which she announced on March 8.

Advocate Etienne Labuschagne, representing the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, said all political parties within the portfolio committee on transport agreed that the board should be dissolved.

Labuschagne argued that the minister's relationship with the board was irreparable.

"For the board to suggest she has an ulterior motive and to ask for personal costs against her and then suggest to be reinstated is simply too much."

He argued that Peters had conveyed her dissatisfaction with the board to Parliament long before the Sunday Times report that former Prasa acting group CEO Collins Letsoalo had hiked his salary by 350%.

Minister 'not being fair'

Representing the board, Advocate David Unterhalter argued that Peters did not relay her concerns to the board.

"She should have written a letter to the board and asked for reasons why not to dissolve the board but she did not do this. She instead deals with public spats and Letsoalo's removal specifically. She doesn't refer to anything else," he said.

Unterhalter argued that the board, independent of Letsoalo, had developed a turnaround strategy for Prasa.

"It's just a blatant case of a minister who is not being fair," he added.

He argued that the matter should be considered as urgent by the courts because the board's term would end in July.

Unterhalter told the court that there was no reason the board would not work with Peters.

"The board can work with the minister. There is no reason why it should not be a working relationship."

'Blatant unlawful conduct'

Molefe's founding affidavit, filed on Saturday, said the decision to remove the board members and the notices of removal are "plainly unlawful and must be set aside" to prevent irremediable damage, uphold legality and vindicate public interest.

Peters' "blatant unlawful conduct and failure to reverse course or engage with the applicants timeously" warranted a punitive costs order, Molefe's court papers read.

Molefe sat in the front row in court listening attentively to arguments on Friday.

During intervals, he engaged with journalists and legal representatives.

Judge Peter Mabuse reserved judgment.

Read more on:    prasa  |  dipuo peters  |  pretoria  |  judiciary

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