Suspended Prasa workers paid R37 million to stay at home

The Democratic Alliances says that Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) has paid as much as R37 million in salaries to suspended employees over the past three years.

This was revealed in a Parliamentary reply by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, to questions posted by DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny De Freitas.

“In her replies, the Minister admits that the South Africa taxpayer is essentially funding the salaries of 2,575 suspended Prasa officials who have been suspended on full pay for the last three years,” De Freitas said.

He said that minister Peters’ replies indicate that the majority of suspended employees are subject to “misconduct cases” that “require intense investigations”.

“One wonders what level of misconduct has been identified to justify such protracted ‘intense investigations’,” De Freitas said.

On Tuesday it was revealed that Prasa has had to function without a chief financial officer for more than seven months.

Minister Peters told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that she has never seen or met Prasa’s CFO since she was appointed to the position in June 2014.

Peters attended a Scopa hearing on Prasa’s annual report for the 2014/15 financial year and suggested that MPs ask Prasa’s acting CEO for details about the financial head’s whereabouts.

Nathi Khena, who has been acting CEO since former CEO Lucky Montana’s dismissal in June last year, said he has also not seen the financial head since he took over last year.

“The CFO apparently has a medical condition and it impacts her performance,” Khena said. “She hasn’t been at work for quite a long time. She came back two to three weeks ago, after her request for medical boarding had been declined.”

“The Minister’s answers show how Prasa is dawdling and taking their time in finalising disciplinary matters,” De Freitas said, adding that Peters’ answers indicate that the reasons for the delays in resolving these matters are due to a “shortage of investigating staff”.

“Peters says nothing about what is being done to address this shortage, or what the alternative is to bring these matters to a speedy conclusion,” the shadow minister said.

“Notwithstanding this lack of resolve, what is most concerning is that Peters then sites interference by trade unions as a further excuse for delays in resolving these disciplinary matters,” De Freitas said.

More on Prasa

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10 of Thuli Madonsela’s findings against Prasa

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Suspended Prasa workers paid R37 million to stay at home