Axed execs ask Labour Court to force Prasa to uphold their reinstatement

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA ? JULY 13: The new Prasa trains on July 13, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. PRASA insists that the media reports on its new locomotives were incorrect and misleading and that the gap between the contact wire and the roof of the locomotives exceeded the 150mm prescribed in safety regulations. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Alet Pretorius)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA ? JULY 13: The new Prasa trains on July 13, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. PRASA insists that the media reports on its new locomotives were incorrect and misleading and that the gap between the contact wire and the roof of the locomotives exceeded the 150mm prescribed in safety regulations. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Alet Pretorius)

Three executives axed by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) have approached the Labour Court in a bid to compel the agency to uphold a recent court order to reinstate them, as the rail agency awaits the outcome of its application for leave to appeal the order.

Last week the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that the rail agency reinstate fired executives Martha Ngoye, Nkosinathi Khena and Tiro Holela to their positions, as group executive for legal, risk and compliance; chief operations officer; and general manager for strategy, respectively. 

The order followed a similar ruling which ordered the reinstatement of Pearl Munthali, head of the Prasa foundation. 

The three executives were meant to resume their duties on 15 March, with full benefits and salaries from the date of their terminations - in January for Khena and Ngoye; and February for Holela. However, Prasa wants to appeal the court’s order which, if reversed, will result in the rail agency's decision to terminate their employment being upheld.

This prompted the trio to file a new application with the labour court on Monday, asking that its order for their reinstatement be upheld pending the outcome of Prasa’s application for leave to appeal.  

"Unless leave to implement the decision of this court of 2 March 2021 is given, the applicants will suffer irreparable harm. Prasa, on the other hand, will not suffer any irreparable harm if the judgment is implemented," the three said in their court papers filed at the Labour Court on Monday. 

Last year, Ngoye told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that her team had raised concerns about the cancelling of security contracts that left the rail agency’s infrastructure vulnerable to vandalism and theft. The cancellation came after a 2015 report by then-Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, flagging some of the contracts.  

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