Projects I championed gave Prasa value for money, Lucky Montana tells Zondo commission

Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA CEO, Lucky Montana, appears before a parliamentary inquiry into state capture on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town.
Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA CEO, Lucky Montana, appears before a parliamentary inquiry into state capture on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town.
Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander
  • Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana told the State Capture Commission that contracts that he oversaw and championed were being targeted with claims of irregularities.
  • Montana defended an R80 million contract for training that Prasa entered into with a company named Prodigy.
  • Montana said when he had to discipline officials he was on good terms with, spurious claims of impropriety on his part emerged.

Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) group CEO Lucky Montana took to the witness stand at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to defend contracts and programmes that the agency undertook during his tenure, saying all of them gave the state-owned company value for money.

Montana appeared before the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday morning, after a Friday appearance where he derided the commission for being "biased and compromised" due to evidence from individuals including former Prasa chair Popo Molefe.

Montana defended an R80 million contract for training that Prasa entered into with a company named Prodigy. However, Prasa general manager of legal services at the time, Fani Dingiswayo, refused to sign off on the document after finding irregularities in the contract.

Montana eventually dismissed Dingiswayo. Montana said after the contract was drawn up, he signed it with the hope of using the agency's customer services arm to facilitate training of young professionals.

"There were interactions between Prodigy and Prasa employees. What was proposed was a partnership after learnerships from the services SETA for 300 people. They wanted to give those to Prasa so that on customer services people can be trained.

'Unique proposal'

"This was a unique proposal. We were happy we accepted, and we interacted, and a partnership was developed, complete with our legal department. It was developed, signed and the training took place," said Montana.

Montana also he was instrumental in the appointment of people at Prasa like Dingiswayo, former head of the legal division, Martha Ngoye, and former general manager of strategy, Tiro Holele, adding that he endorsed some of these despite opposition from the board.

"When we appointed Holele, I had a big fight with the board. They said he was still a young man and I said he had a sharp mind. The board rejected my proposal and wanted to appoint an old white man. They asked for motivations and I said when I leave Prasa, we must build a cadre of capable young black professionals," Montana said.

Montana said Holele's decision to defend him in an editorial in the investigative newspaper Mail & Guardian was a testament to the rapport between them. However, Montana said, but when he had to discipline Holele, he was suddenly portrayed as a monster.

Montana said when it was clear that Ngoyi was not prepared to be CEO, he told her we would consolidate operations and place her as group executive of legal, risk and compliance.

'Agenda to discredit me'

"But I did not realise how bitter she was that she was no longer CEO of Intersite. That was when Molefe and all of them moved to investigate me. I have many weaknesses, but the ones that I am accused of over here are false and are part of an agenda to discredit me," he said.

Montana said his detractors outside of Prasa tried to link him with the controversial Gupta family, but since there was no indication of contracts, they benefitted from signed off by him, they sought to inappropriately link him with individuals such as Durban businessman Roy Moodley.

"I have never made unlawful decisions. When people realised that the Guptas were not in Prasa and involved with Zuma in the rolling stock programme, they had to find something else. I stood my ground and at the Parliamentary inquiry," he said.

In another declaration of innocence, Montana said the Guptas are no friends of his and that even though he used to live near the Johannesburg home of former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, he never visited either of them.

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