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Corrupt rail contracts: Lucky Montana once again shifts...

South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

Corrupt rail contracts: Lucky Montana once again shifts the blame

Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa group CEO Lucky Montana testifies at the Zondo Commission in Johannesburg on 20 April 2021. (Photo by Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

At the State Capture Commission on Wednesday, former group CEO of Prasa Lucky Montana again blamed others for dodgy contracts at the rail agency.

Lucky Montana returned to the State Capture Commission on Wednesday to lay the blame for the corrupt Swifambo deal on Martha Ngoye, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)’s Head of Legal, Risk and Compliance. 

Wednesday was Montana’s third appearance, following testimony last Friday and again on Tuesday

“She’s an integral part of this and she must take ownership of it,” said the former group CEO of Prasa in reference to the Swifambo contract and Ngoye’s role in the deal. 

The Swifambo contract, which was supposed to provide 70 new locomotives for SA’s strained rail network, remains one of the most explosive deals to come out of Montana’s tenure as group CEO. In 2020, Daily Maverick exposed how R500-million from the deal went into private accounts, trusts, entities and companies linked to Auswell Mashaba and Makhensa Mabunda. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Gravy Trains: R500m from failed Prasa locomotives deal ‘fraudulently’ funnelled to trust, private accounts and properties

Mabunda has not appeared before the commission, while commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ordered that charges be laid against Mashaba for failing to arrive for his scheduled appearance in February

Much of Montana’s testimony focused on Ngoye. Montana said Ngoye had come to the commission “to say she was suspended for standing up against corruption… it’s so false, it’s not even true”. 

In 2015, Montana fired Ngoye at a meeting that lasted less than five minutes, but this was overturned and she was instead suspended. 

On Wednesday, Montana said, “I didn’t approve the Swifambo deal, but the board approved it upon recommendation from the Bid Adjudication Committee.” He said that executive Tiro Holele was head of this committee, on which Ngoye also sat.  

In March 2020, Ngoye testified that Prasa’s legal team had no say in board contracts, including the Swifambo deal. She said, “We just did not see this contract being beneficial to Prasa and when we raised our concerns, it was not received favourably.” 

Addressing Zondo directly, Montana said: “I’m blunt on this, Chair: Ms Ngoye lied to this commission.” 

Montana alleged that acting CEO Nathi Khena (who replaced Montana when he left the agency in 2015) and Ngoye found issues with the Swifambo contract only after he had left the agency. He said that Bernard Hotz, an attorney with the controversial Werksmans Attorneys, instructed Ngoye and Khena to have a look at the Swifambo contract. 

“She’s an integral part of it and she must take ownership of it,” said Montana.

According to IOL, Werksmans has indicated it will apply to the commission to cross-examine Montana. 

“I welcome the opportunity to be cross-examined,” said Montana.

Montana said, “They [Werksmans] were telling us about the irregular contracts, but they were irregularly appointed.” 

Zondo said Montana would return to the commission in the next few weeks. DM

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All Comments 5

  • I don’t believe a word that Lucky Montana is saying. We’re not stupid. Who can believe all this ? Tragic that he seems to believe his own lies. Avarice soaking in people’s skins led to all this. We’re in a mess as a country because of such heartless crooks.

  • Montana is more slippery than an eel and attracted other slippery characters, such as Mabunda, into his orbit. What about the ultimate slippery eel that was minister in charge when all this was happening?

  • So what happened to Mashaba after his failure to appear at the ZC and Zondo’s instruction to lay charges against him? Let me guess. The same as Zuma. Nothing. Please remind me why we are forking out millions to sustain this commission.

  • This commission has just become one gravy train investigating another. Maybe something will come out of this but I’m beginning to have my doubts.

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