'I reported Prasa corruption to ANC national executive committee' - Molefe tells Zondo commission

Popo Molefe , the former chairperson of the Board of PRASA, testifies at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on June 29.
Popo Molefe , the former chairperson of the Board of PRASA, testifies at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on June 29.
Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle
  • The former chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa says he previously reported allegations of corruption at Prasa to the ANC's Top 6. 
  • Molefe was speaking before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
  • Since August 2018, the commission has been investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud at state entities.


Former chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), Popo Molefe, says he approached the leadership of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) in to brief them about corruption and governance failures at the state-owned agency which manages R173 billion in rail infrastructure investment.

Molefe made the revelation when giving evidence before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture (otherwise known as the Zondo commission), which resumed hearings on Monday. The commission has, since August 2018, been investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud at state entities.

He said the board's efforts at probing allegations of financial mismanagement had been met with resistance from the top executives of the agency he chaired between 2014 and 2017, which faced allegations of gross financial misconduct involving the allocation of tenders, including for the modernisation of its Braamfontein depot.

The board stopped the Braamfontein contract after it was deemed to be irregular.

In his testimony, Molefe stated that the previous Prasa board chairperson, Sfiso Buthelezi, wanted to hasten the Braamfontein contract before his term came to an end. 

"That was the last contract he wanted approved before he left, whether there was any motive for that, I wouldn't know, I don't want to impute any motive," he said.

Molefe said there were forces being mobilised against the board to get it to stop pursing its investigations against claims of corruption, including being misled by former CEO Lucky Montana on the scale of financial shortcomings at the agency.

"When I briefed the Top Six [NEC] of the governing party, I referred to the fact that our investigations shows that we have been misled... that there was this tender that was about to be issued and it was irregular and we stopped it, and we are conducting several other investigations which are revealing massive corruption within the organisation." he said.

Molefe said it was known at that time that "there was this massive corruption" at the agency, which is now under administration.

Molefe also mentioned how former transport minister, Dipuo Peters, allegedly frustrated the appointment of a new Prasa CEO to replace Montana, who had been fired in July 2015 following a fallout with the board.

He said the board had gone through an elaborate process of recruiting for a new CEO, and the name of Lauriette Modipane was submitted to the minister. However, according to Molefe, Peters indicated that Prasa was "not ready" for a permanent leader.

There had also been backroom manoeuvres to have Montana return to his old job, including allegations that former President Jacob Zuma had tried to influence the board to reappoint him, said Molefe.

Prasa has not had a permanent CEO since Montana, and the agency is currently under administration.

Since the appointment of Bongisizwe Mpondo as administrator in December, several senior managers have been suspended as part of an effort to deal with corruption at the agency.

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