Dodgy tenders, paying rent for vacant buildings and forking out millions for employees improperly fired are reportedly some of the findings in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s as yet unreleased provisional report on parastatal Passenger Rail Agency of SA.
Some of her provisional findings in the report Missing Tracks, dated March 2015, were published in the Sunday Times.
Prasa’s group chief strategy officer Sipho Sithole told News24 on Sunday they had not yet received the report and this was their first sight of such information.
“We can’t comment on what has been put in the paper until the public protector has officially submitted the report to Prasa and the board has engaged with it,” he said.
He said Madonsela’s office had not contacted them about when the document would be released.
The provisional report, which is said to point a finger at axed Prasa boss Lucky Montana, found a number of incidents amounted to improper conduct, wasteful expenditure or maladministration.
One of the findings was reportedly that a R1.1 billion contract to provide stations with high-speed access gates was awarded improperly to a company after tender procedures were not followed.
Montana’s cellphone went straight to voicemail on Sunday morning.
The public protector recently stated she had delayed her report to consider further inputs her office received.
Prasa chair Popo Molefe told the newspaper that the report’s release was delayed after investigators apparently found Montana had withheld the subpoenas of about 13 employees who had been expected to make submissions to the public protector.
He claimed some of these employees came forward to say they were willing to make submissions after Montana was fired.
“We have read about this in the paper that that was apparently the cause of the delay and postponement but we don’t know who those employees are,” Sithole responded.
Asked whether the Prasa board was in contact with Montana, he said: “I don’t know whether the board has any ongoing dealings with him”.
Montana has laid fraud charges against a number of Prasa executives.
One of the charges relates to a R209 million tender to fence Prasa’s depots.
He opened a fraud, blackmail, and corruption cases against Molefe and two other Prasa executives.
Montana was fired from Prasa with immediate effect on July 16. He regards his dismissal as illegal.
His removal came amid reports that Prasa had paid R600 million for 13 Afro4000 locomotives imported from Spain, which were apparently too high for local conditions and could damage overhead power cables.
A week ago, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters indicated she had asked the Auditor General (AG) to probe alleged financial mismanagement at Prasa.
“The minister has commissioned the AG’s office to look into alleged violations of the Public Finance Management Act and other related statutes regarding contracts, engagement of service providers and payments to service providers including but not limited to issues that have received wide media coverage recently,” her spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said at the time.
Peters said given recent revelations and the outcomes of other processes linked to corporate governance, she believed an independent institution, such as the AG, was better placed to look into Prasa’s financial affairs.