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Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana denies knowledge of R80m donation to ANC

Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana denies knowledge of R80m donation to ANC
Former Prasa Group Chief Executive Officer Lucky Montana testifies at the State Capture Inquiry on 3 May 2021 in Johannesburg. (Photo by Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

However, the former chief executive of South Africa’s rail agency said it was common for the ANC to ask the heads of state-owned entities for donations.

Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) chief executive Lucky Montana appeared before the State Capture Inquiry on Monday, 3 May, to provide insight into an R80-million donation to the ANC. 

Montana insisted the Swifambo contract – to provide new locomotives for South Africa’s ailing network – was “never a corrupt contract”, despite Swifambo being found to be a front company which went through liquidation proceedings in 2019. In previous testimony, Prasa’s legal team told the chairperson of the inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, they did not have access to contracts such as the Swifambo deal. 

In July 2020, the former chairperson of the Prasa board, Popo Molefe, testified that Swifambo Rail Leasing director Auswell Mashaba told him that R80-million went to the “movement” – the ANC, of which Mashaba was a member. Mashaba refused to appear before the inquiry in February 2021 and Zondo confirmed a charge has since been laid with the police. 

Evidence leader Vas Soni SC questioned Montana’s knowledge of the donation. Montana first claimed this donation happened after he left Prasa in July 2015. He said he was aware, around 2013 and 2014, that Mashaba had made donations to the ANC – but not of the R80-million in question. 

Montana said he knew Mashaba had been approached for donations by the ANC. He said it was common for the ANC to ask CEOs of state agencies for donations to the party. Montana said he hoped the inquiry could be extended so that state agency CEOs could be asked about donations to the governing party.

Montana described one incident under his tenure. 

Montana said the ANC leadership had told Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, “We want Lucky to organise it,” regarding transport provision for supporters to an ANC January 8th celebration. Sunday World reported that Montana claimed the ANC had benefited from Prasa  transport services in 2012,  2014 and 2015. 

Montana confirmed that he met with Angolan businesswoman Maria Gomes and the then treasurer of the ANC, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in Johannesburg to discuss donations to the ANC. Montana claimed Mkhize provided Gomes with bank account details for donations. “Chair, I was there with Mr Mkhize,” said Montana. 

Gomes is connected to Swifambo through her company Similex, which gained R40-million from the now liquidated company. 

Previously, Montana revealed this information about Mkhize and Gomes to Scorpio, Daily Maverick’s investigative unit.  (Read here.)

In November 2020, Mkhize refuted the claims made by Montana, according to EWN. 

“When Popo Molefe said R80-million went to the ANC… I didn’t know that,” said Montana, who insisted the money was not a product of corruption. 

On Monday, Montana was asked for his version of the May 2015 firing of the agency’s Head of Legal, Risk and Compliance, Martha Ngoye.

During her appearance in March 2020, Ngoye claimed Montana had fired her after she raised questions about a company called Prodigy, which was founded  by Roy Moodley, a known backer of former president Jacob Zuma. 

Montana said Ngoye “was unruly… she was insubordinate, she was very bad”. Montana said that after the firing of Fani Dingiswayo, who worked directly under Ngoye, “she then was daring me to fire her”. 

“She dared me to fire her and I accepted her invitation,” said Montana. He said he fired Ngoye based on her involvement in an irregular contract with SA Fence and Gate

After Montana left Prasa in July 2015, Ngoye was cleared to return to her work. 

Then in February 2021, Ngoye was fired again by Prasa’s new board, led by chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane, who brought up the SA Fence and Gate issue. Ngoye took this decision to the Labour Court, which ruled in her favour. She has since returned to work, reported GroundUp

Montana made similar statements about Ngoye during an appearance before the inquiry in April, when he accused Ngoye of lying to the inquiry about evidence over irregular contracts. 

Montana is due to return to the inquiry about his property transactions at a later date. On Tuesday, 4 May the inquiry will hear Eskom-related evidence from former chief executive Matshela Koko. DM

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