Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says she did not try to stop an investigation into possible corruption involving contracts worth billions of rand at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
“It is categorically denied that the Minister at any stage instructed any member of the Prasa Board and/or administration to stop any investigation of any nature,” the department of transport said in a statement.
It follows claims by the Democratic Alliance stating that it had a copy of a letter in which Peters instructed chairperson Popo Molefe to stop the parastatal’s ongoing investigation into contracts awarded during the tenure of Lucky Montana, Prasa’s former CEO.
“We have noted with deep concern media reports that placed in the public discourse inaccurate statements alleging that the Minister of Transport, Mme Dipuo Peters has instructed the Board of Prasa to stop ongoing investigations into contracts worth billions of rand awarded by Prasa,” the statement said.
“We wish to place on record that the allegations are both malicious and a deliberate distortion of the truth. Minister Peters as a shareholder in Prasa has the responsibility to ensure that Prasa delivers on its core mandate and that such delivery is underpinned by prudent and good governance principles.”
The department said that the ‘gloomy picture’ painted about the entity of the transport family warranted urgent and decisive interventions. “To that extent, the minister engaged the Board of Prasa and were in agreement that priority be placed at improving good governance and bring about stability at the entity.”
The department said every public institution is underpinned by the principles of accountability, transparency and prudent financial management.
The statement continued:
“It can never be correct that when the minister implores those vested with the responsibility to account and invoke the principles of good governance, such a clarion call be deliberately misconstrued as an instruction to thwart investigations. The department said the minister, however, implored that investigations be speedily concluded as opposed to unlimited and ever ongoing investigations costing the entity millions of rand without any tangible report tabled.
“It is an undeniable fact that some of the investigations have been protracted for a lengthy period of time without any indication of such investigations coming to a conclusion,” said the department.
“It is mischievous to allege or even think that the Minister can stand in the way of good governance. As a matter of fact, she is a proponent of an administration free of corruption and some of the investigations currently underway were undertaken at her request with her unconditional and unwavering support to rid the entity of maladministration and corruption.”
The department said that it would be irresponsible of the minister not to monitor the process and request reports on the outcome of the investigation when huge amounts of monies are being spent and the process is continuing unabated.
“It is also important to ensure that there are no scope overruns and duplication of efforts amongst the three investigations,” it said.