R5.9m Prasa salary: No pay back the money for Letsoalo

Collins Letsoalo.
Collins Letsoalo.

Cape Town – Former acting CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Collins Letsoalo does not need to pay back any perks, remuneration or benefits accrued to him during his tenure at the state-owned entity, said former transport minister Dipuo Peters in response to a parliamentary question.

Peters was one of a number of ministers replaced in an overnight Cabinet reshuffle on March 31. Her successor is Joe Maswanganyi, who had served on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport until he was sworn in as a minister.

READ: SA's new transport minister raises more questions than answers - AA

Peters was responding to an outstanding question on Monday posed by the Democratic Alliance’s Chris Hunsinger in March who asked her to elaborate on the secondment of Letsoalo - appointed as acting CEO in July 2016 - who was removed from his position by the Prasa board following allegations that he hiked his salary with 350% from R1.7m to R5.9m a year.  

The former transport minister dissolved the Prasa board on March 8, citing governance problems and its treatment of Letsoalo. 

READ: Peters defends Letsoalo amid Prasa strife 

Former board chairperson, Popo Molefe, has since filed court papers stating there was no legal justification for the removal of the board. The court is yet to rule on the matter. 

In her response to the DA's question, Peters said the Prasa board and Letsoalo entered into an agreement that Prasa would pay him an annualised salary rate “applicable to the position”. 

“The annualised salary rate applicable to this position,” Peters said, “is currently R5 986 140.07 (R498 845 per month), which is a cost-to-company package”.

READ: I'm entitled to R5.9m - acting Prasa CEO

Peters added that Letsoalo was eligible to receive all benefits applicable to his position, including medical aid, membership of a provident fund, funeral cover, car allowance and a company cell phone on an unlimited package (open line). 

Letsoalo opted not to make use of these benefits, except for “car and VIP protection”, the former minister said. 

Peters also emphasised that no perks had been awarded to Letsoalo that were “above” his conditions of secondment to the position. 

An investigation into the circumstances around Letsoalo’s appointment is currently under way, Peters said, and once concluded “the outcome will be addressed accordingly”. 

The position of Prasa CEO has been advertised on March 15 and an interview process will follow. 

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