Prasa appoints a CEO who is under investigation for corruption

accreditation
Mthuthuzeli Swartz. (File photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana, GroundUp)
Mthuthuzeli Swartz. (File photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana, GroundUp)

Cape Town – The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has appointed an acting CEO of rail who is under investigation for corruption and sexual harassment.

This has been revealed in a letter sent on January 5 by the UniteBehind coalition to the chairperson of the Prasa interim board, Justice Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele, according to a GroundUp report.

UniteBehind has given the board until Thursday to suspend Mthuthuzeli Swartz.

READ: ‘I was never charged’ - Prasa's acting CEO

UniteBehind said Prasa had decided to promote Swartz to acting CEO on January 3, ignoring legal advice given at the end of December 2017 that he should be suspended.

Swartz has held numerous positions at the rail agency, including Western Cape regional manager and, more recently, executive manager for mainline passenger services.

UniteBehind listed several reasons why Swartz should be fired immediately. It also demanded that he be forced to account for his actions.

Irregular procurement processes

GroundUp approached Prasa to comment on all the allegations described in the letter.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani said the agency had no comment.

Sipho Sithole, head of communications at Prasa, had also not responded to questions by the time of publication.

The UniteBehind letter states that Swartz is still under investigation for his time at mainline passenger services.

The allegations against him include corruption, irregular procurement processes, intimidation and sexual harassment.

GroundUp has seen a document that confirms that an internal investigation of these allegations is indeed taking place.

Case confirmed by Hawks

The coalition also states that Swartz is being investigated for alleged involvement in the theft of rail lines and sleepers in Elliot, Eastern Cape, in 2013.

GroundUp has seen a police document related to this case. According to the document, people were caught removing rail lines and sleepers in January 2013.

The suspects then produced a letter of authorisation with an employee code on it, a Metrorail scrap form, a request for used rail form, and a map of the country's railway lines.

The document does not state that Swartz is a suspect, but says: "The public prosecutor needs the following statements from relevant persons (but not Mthura Swartz) in Metrorail Cape Town" regarding the letter and the employee code.

Hawks Eastern Cape spokesperson Captain Anelisa Feni, said she could only confirm that the Hawks are investigating a case related to Prasa but could "not reveal the identities of the suspects".

Feni said no other information could be shared with the public yet.

Public Protector investigation

UniteBehind alleges that Swartz appointed two junior staff members who did not have the necessary qualifications and relevant security clearances.

But GroundUp was not able to confirm whether the employees named in the letter were registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira).

Psira requires ID numbers to check registration and we do not have the ID numbers of the employees.

UniteBehind claims that Swartz is being investigated for "a range of unlawful activities" by the Public Protector.

This week, Cleopatra Mosana, spokesperson for the Public Protector, confirmed to GroundUp that the organisation's Western Cape office had received an anonymous complaint for "alleged maladministration in relation to mismanagement and abuse of resources, irregular recruitment and labour processes" by "officials at Metrorail Western Cape" in 2013.

She said the Public Protector's office received new information from Prasa for this case on December 21, 2017.

"This information still has to be evaluated and incorporated by the investigators."

R8m tender controversy

The investigation is ongoing, she said. But GroundUp has seen no evidence that Swartz is the subject of this investigation.

The coalition said that Swartz's poor record started over a decade ago while working as executive director at the City of Cape Town.

In February 2007, a city disciplinary tribunal found Swartz guilty of eight counts of "failing to perform his duties as a senior manager" for his role in the controversial Jewellery City tender of more than R8m.

According to a 2007 article, Swartz approved the payment of R1 200 per hour to a consultant from Johannesburg for managing the Jewellery City project.

He appealed against the ruling but it is unclear if his appeal was successful. City officials had not been able to provide information on this by the time of publication.

Should the Prasa board decide not to suspend Swartz, UniteBehind said it should give legally valid reasons for this by the close of business on Thursday.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
After the opening weekend of URC action, what did you make of the South African struggles?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It exposed the quality of South African rugby...
42% - 699 votes
There were positives to take
7% - 118 votes
We shouldn't read too much into one weekend
17% - 288 votes
It will take the SA sides time to adjust to the new competition
34% - 577 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.05
-0.6%
Rand - Pound
20.58
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
17.57
-0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.94
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.3%
Gold
1,741.31
-0.5%
Silver
22.40
-1.0%
Palladium
1,957.32
-0.6%
Platinum
979.00
-0.5%
Brent Crude
79.53
+1.8%
Top 40
57,778
-0.0%
All Share
64,215
+0.0%
Resource 10
57,289
-0.8%
Industrial 25
82,776
-0.1%
Financial 15
14,463
+1.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE