Peters denies canning Prasa probe

2016-08-25 15:02
Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters. (GCIS)

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters. (GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The Department of Transport (DOT) has "categorically denied" that Minister Dipuo Peters had issued an instruction to stop an ongoing probe into contracts awarded by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

News24 on Wednesday reported that Peters had written a letter to Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe earlier this month in which she asked him to "close off" an investigation into contracts worth billions of rands awarded by the state-owned rail giant during the tenure of axed Prasa CEO Lucky Montana.

The letter, which has since been widely circulated, mentions the "excessive spending . . . reported to be in the region of R80m" brought about by the investigation.

"I therefore ask that you close off this investigation process and consider the results or report thereof…  A determination of any further investigation and a way forward will subsequently be made after studying the report in detail," reads Peters's letter to Montana.

However, in a statement issued by the DOT on Thursday, the department denied that the letter amounted to an instruction to immediately halt the probe.

Cost of investigation

"It is categorically denied that the Minister at any stage instructed any member of the Prasa Board and/or administration to stop any investigation of any nature. The Minister however implored that investigations be speedily concluded (our emphasis) as opposed to unlimited and ever ongoing investigations costing the entity millions of rand without any tangible report tabled. 

“It is an undeniable fact that some of the investigations have been protracted for a lengthy period of time without any indication of such investigations coming to a conclusion," reads the statement.

The DOT repeated the concerns raised in Peters's letter about the cost of the investigation.

"It would be irresponsible of [the] minister not to monitor the process and request reports on the outcome of the investigation when huge amounts of monies are being spent and the process is continuing unabated," said the DOT.

Prasa, which has appointment law firm Werksmans to conduct the probes, has thus far issued civil claims against two contractors who've clinched controversial contracts from Prasa worth billions of rands.

They are Siyangena Technologies, which has secured two contracts for security products altogether worth about R4bn, and Swifambo Rail Leasing, supplier of the controversial Afro4000 locomotives. The latter contract has cost taxpayers more than R3.5bn.

Read more on:    prasa  |  dipuo peters  |  tenders

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