The Democratic Alliance says it is in possession of a confidential letter showing that the minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, is attempting to terminate an independent investigation into irregular tenders at rail agency, Prasa.
The investigation is being conducted by Werksmans Attorneys.
Minister Peters states the following in the letter, dated 12 August 2016:
“I therefore, ask that you close off this investigation process and consider the results thereof. Furthermore, the board is requested to submit a detail[ed] report indicating the progress and the outcome of the investigation. A determination of any further investigation and a way forward will subsequently be made after studying the report in detail.”
DA shadow minister of transport, Manny de Freitas said the party will request the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport to summon the minister to ask why she has requested for the investigation to be withdrawn.
“We need answers from minister Peters on her about-turn on such an important investigation that saw a botched R51 billion locomotives tender that was smeared by Gupta involvement.
“Specifically Minister Peters must avow that this latest move has nothing to do with president Jacob Zuma’s and her relationship with the Guptas,” de Freitas said.
The DA noted that in the letter, Peters bases her interference on the following reasons – that the investigation is “endless and without a clear scope”, nor is it objective.
The DA stated that the objectives of the investigation are clearly spelled out in the Auditor-General’s scathing report.
The AG found numerous discrepancies in contracts issued by Prasa including a massive escalation of R8 billion in a contract for new trains for Metrorail, and noncompliance in awarding a R17.9 billion contract to broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) equity partners.
A letter written by former CEO Lucky Montana, also alleged an attempt by the Gupta family to capture a R51 billion Prasa tender on behalf of a bidder in 2012 – which the family denied doing.
“It is clear that the minister is concerned more about protecting fellow ANC cadres who may be fingered in the outcomes of the investigation than aiming to recover taxpayers money that was looted in illicit tenders,” de Freitas said.
According to the DA, in the letter minister Peters speaks of the monies paid to Werksmans investigation as excessive and being tantamount to irregular expenditure, which is untrue.
The political party said that for an investigation into billions of rands spent, the current R80 million fee seems on par with market rates.
“It is astonishing that a Minister would request an investigation into financial malfeasance to be terminated prematurely, unless there is something to hide,” de Freitas said.