Investigate corruption at Prasa or we will strike – NTM and Saftu

2017-06-19 22:04
From left to right: Kagiso Seboko, Craig Nte, Ephraim Mphahlele, Zwelinzima Vavi, Eleanor Solomon, and Chris Manamela speaking on corruption at Prasa at the National Transport Movement (NTM) offices on Monday afternoon. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

From left to right: Kagiso Seboko, Craig Nte, Ephraim Mphahlele, Zwelinzima Vavi, Eleanor Solomon, and Chris Manamela speaking on corruption at Prasa at the National Transport Movement (NTM) offices on Monday afternoon. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg –The National Transport Movement and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) have warned of mass action unless those implicated in a web of corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) are brought to book.

Speaking at a media briefing at the NTM offices in Johannesburg on Monday, NTM's general secretary, Ephraim Mphahlele, called for the arrest of those implicated in crooked contracts, tenders, and corruption at the state-owned entity (SOE).

He also called for the resignations of President Jacob Zuma, transport minister Joe Maswanganyi, and deputy finance minister Sfiso Buthelezi.

Mphahlele also said that Prasa's board should be allowed to conduct their investigation into the siphoning of billions of rands without being dissolved by Maswangayi, as it is a political manoeuvre to stop corrupt individuals from being held accountable.

"The Prasa board is reportedly investigating 142 contracts, worth R24bn, for possible corruption. Yet the transport minister, Joe Maswangayi, has now written to its members terminating their membership," said Mphahlele.

In March 2017, the previous transport minister – Dipuo Peters - tried to dissolve the Prasa board as well. This was overruled by a high court order which ruled that the decision was irrational and irregular. In 2015, criminal charges laid by the Prasa board against former Prasa Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lucky Montana, over tenders proved unsuccessful.

Some of the tenders awarded during Montana's tenure were worth more than R7bn, including one in which the incorrect locomotives were bought and found to be too big for South African railways.


Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi and his brother, Nkanyezi Buthelezi, are alleged in the #GuptaLeaks to be the direct beneficiaries of the companies that secured contracts worth at least R150m from Prasa. This allegedly during Buthelezi's tenure as Prasa board chairperson, an allegation Prasa board chair Popo Molefe also wants to be investigated.

On March 31, Buthelezi was appointed deputy finance minister by Zuma as part of his cabinet reshuffle which saw former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, removed from the finance portfolio.

According to Mphahlele, allegations about corruption at the rail operator were initially made five years ago by what is now known as NTM, and they were reported to the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations (Hawks). Former public protector Thuli Madonsela also gave evidence of corruption in her report.

NTM and Saftu raised concerns over the failure of the Hawks and the NPA to act despite evidence from the former public protector’s report, and a stern letter from Prasa board chair Popo Molefe to former Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza, in February.

"The actions of the Hawks are criminal. There is a legal mandate for them to act on any criminal activity when it is reported to them. This situation is more than five years old, but it is still not being acted on," said Craig Nte, the deputy secretary general of NTM.

Speaking to 702's Stephen Grootes on Monday afternoon, Saftu's acting spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said, "there is strong evidence that there is movement behind the scenes from government to make sure that these allegations are never properly investigated."

Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of Saftu, said that it was becoming increasingly obvious that those with evidence against kingpins in the web of corruption and state capture, could not go to the Hawks. 

"Even when this current board of Prasa goes to the high court exposing lack of action of Hawks, nothing will happen because they want to protect those responsible for pillaging the purse that belongs to the people of this country as a whole," said Vavi.

Nte said those at the receiving end of the benefits of their corruption included Montana, the whole executive at Prasa under the watch of the former chairperson of the board - saying more names could also be found in the publicly accessible report titled 'Derailed'.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane also came under fire from Vavi, with Mphahlele saying she is too selective in certain matters.

"She is delaying to investigate or not investigating at all. We are concerned with regards to the manner in which she is going about her business, she is out of order and must fulfil her obligations of investigating without favour or fear," said Mphahlele.

Molefe has vowed to continue his fight against corruption, going as far as launching a court application to force the Hawks to investigate the allegations said to be crippling the agency. The Hawks intend to oppose this, it is reported.

Mphahlele also said that the citizenship of the Gupta family must be rescinded as it was awarded in an unlawful manner. He said that the family had bought too much embarrassment to the regime and that they must be deported back to their country of origin. 

Read more on:    saftu  |  prasa  |  corruption

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