An up-market property in Cape Town is once more raising questions about rail boss Lucky Montana’s relationships with businesspeople who are awarded big contracts by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which he heads.
Three weeks ago, City Press and its sister newspaper, Rapport, reported on a questionable property deal that connects Montana to a security company that won a Prasa tender worth R3 billion.
The Financial Mail this week reported that Prasa contracts awarded “especially to security companies” were being investigated.
A house in the Cape Town suburb of Oranjezicht and a shiny sports car are now linking Montana to another businessperson, Patricia Norris, whose Commuter Transport Engineering has for years been getting contracts from Prasa for, among other things, the repair and renovation of Metrorail train coaches.
Rapport earlier established that Montana, who lives in Pretoria, has for at least the past year been occasionally staying at the property in Oranjezicht.
According to records held by the deeds office, the house belongs to Norris.
Responding via SMS, Montana denied making use of the property. But Rapport has established that:
. Montana pays for work done by a Cape Town business that provides a weekly garden service at the house;
. A luxury Mercedes-Benz sports car that Rapport spotted in the house’s garage two weeks ago is being leased to Montana by a company in Gauteng; and
. A security guard who was previously posted at the house was removed abruptly from his post after Rapport asked Montana about his connection with the property last week. The guard had confirmed that Montana uses the property.
Montana indicated that he tried to buy the house in 2012, but the transaction fell through because of financial issues.
Speaking through her lawyer, Norris said she was leasing the house to a close corporation that didn’t disclose to her who lived in the house.
She declined to disclose the name of the company she is allegedly leasing the house to.
“To reveal the identity of the tenant would amount to a breach of the provisions of the lease agreement, and infringe the tenant’s rights. Under the circumstances, we are not able to disclose the identity of the tenant,” Norris’ lawyer, Anton Slabbert, said in an emailed response to questions.
“We can, however, confirm that Montana is not a member of the aforementioned close corporation,” Slabbert said.
Montana last week said in an SMS: “I do not use any of the properties belonging to Patricia Norris. I stay in hotels whenever I’m in Cape Town.”
But the company that renders the weekly garden service, Better Garden Services, has confirmed that it was contracted by Montana.
“All I know is that I service the garden and Lucky Montana pays me. I can’t divulge any further details on this account. I have to be professional,” said Blythe McIntosh, owner of Better Garden Services.
Rapport sent questions regarding the garden service to Montana and to two Prasa spokespeople, Nana Zenani and Moffet Mofokeng, but had received no response at the time of going to press.
When Rapport visited the house last Wednesday and spoke to the security guard, a black Mercedes SL 63 AMG was parked in the garage. The vehicle is registered to Blue Bay 2, a company in Gauteng.
Brendon King, sole director of Blue Bay 2, confirmed that the company was leasing the luxury car to Montana. He said he was also aware that Montana had taken the car from Gauteng to Cape Town.
Asked about the car, Montana said it was no one’s business.
“The circumstances under which a hired vehicle was parked at a house or whether I have been seen entering the house is irrelevant and has nothing to do with you,” Montana wrote in an SMS.
According to a presentation in March this year by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Norris’ company is the first and only company wholly owned by a black woman that was successfully contracted by Prasa to repair and renovate Metrorail coaches.
The IDC in 2000 helped to establish Commuter Transport Engineering with a loan of R1.5 million.
Slabbert strongly denied that Norris in any way benefits from any alleged links to Montana.
“Our client entered the rail industry many years before Mr Montana joined [Prasa], and our instructions are that Commuter Transport Engineering has not experienced an improvement in contractual conditions or business with Prasa as a result of Mr Montana’s involvement with Prasa, which appears to be what you are suggesting,” Slabbert said.
Last month, Rapport reported that Montana last year sold his house in the Johannesburg suburb of Parkwood for R3.4 million more than the house was valued at 10 months earlier.
The buyer was a shelf company whose sole director is also an attorney for security company Siyangena Technologies, which was awarded a tender worth almost R3 billion for the installation and maintenance of CCTV cameras and equipment for control rooms at Prasa train stations shortly after the property transaction was concluded. – Rapport