One of Popo Molefe's last acts as Prasa chairperson was to send a scathing letter to Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza over his unit's alleged failure to probe suspect tenders worth billions of rand. By Pieter-Louis Myburgh for News24.
News24 has obtained a letter Molefe sent to Ntlemeza on February 13, in which the former Prasa chairperson says the Hawks “failed to comply with its constitutional and statutory obligations to investigate these matters [the allegedly crooked contracts] and to bring the investigations to finality”.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Wednesday dissolved the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).
Following former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana’s axing in July 2015, the Prasa board laid criminal complaints relating to tenders worth more than R7bn awarded during his tenure.
The most significant of these were contracts worth R4bn awarded to local technology firm, Siyangena Technologies, and a R3.5bn tender for the acquisition of locomotives found to be unsuitable for South Africa’s rail network.
In his letter to Ntlemeza, Molefe describes the contracts as involving “substantial amounts of public monies”.
The investigations “relate to tender irregularities and associated unlawful activity that has a detrimental effect on public transport delivery affecting South Africans nationally and concern the diversion of substantial amounts of public monies for personal gain and corruption”.
Molefe accuses the Hawks of having stalled the probes, despite having access to a multitude of information and evidence about alleged corruption and other transgressions sprouting from the tenders.
“In light of the nature of the matters, I am deeply concerned that South African citizens and the fiscus are prejudiced by the fact that the DPCI [Hawks] has done nothing tangible to respond effectively to these matters, despite Prasa’s ongoing co-operation and assistance,” Molefe wrote.
It appears the purpose of Molefe’s letter was to force the Hawks to provide Prasa with an update on the two probes.
Molefe wanted Ntlemeza “to advise [Prasa] within seven days” about “the number and identities of [the] investigating officers and DPCI officials… assigned to each matter” and “the identity of the person or persons under whose command the teams are working”. DM
Photo by George M. Groutas.
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