South Africa

TRANSPORT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

Three Prasa employees fired during ongoing SIU investigations, Parliament is told

Three Prasa employees fired during ongoing SIU investigations, Parliament is told
The too-tall 'AFRO-4000' locomotive, supplied to Prasa by Spanish rail company Vossloh España, via Swifambo, a front company. (Photo: Col André Kritzinger, CC BY-SA 3.0)

An investigation by the Special Investigating Unit has implicated 33 Prasa employees and led to three dismissals and two resignations. But the investigation is not over as the SIU is probing other issues at the rail agency, including contracts linked to the notorious Swifambo deals.

Three employees of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) have been dismissed after a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), said group CEO Hishaam Emeran during a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday.

Prasa briefed the transport oversight committee on Tuesday about its 2023/2024 corporate plan and gave an update on SIU investigations at the entity.

Last year, Daily Maverick reported that the SIU was investigating serious maladministration at Prasa, including improper or unlawful conduct by employees and officials, the intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property, and unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property.

The SIU investigation dates back to August 2019, when President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a proclamation for the investigation. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Removing Prasa rot is a massive undertaking, but investigations advanced, says SIU

In October 2022, Prasa told Daily Maverick that 33 of its employees were undergoing disciplinary action and consequence management, based on investigations by the SIU and reports by the Auditor-General.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Emeran said out of the 33 cases, 31 had been finalised and the other two were still in the process. One of the cases was “set down for the end of the month”. 

Emeran unpacked the 31 finalised cases, which resulted in three dismissals, two resignations, six final written warnings, two written warnings, and 15 not-guilty findings. Two cases resulted in no action taken against those implicated and one employee took early retirement.

During the committee meeting, Prasa officials were told by the committee chairperson, Mina Lesoma, that requests for a breakdown of costs regarding those investigated and how much money had been recouped from them, as well as the reasons for the two people resigning, needed to be submitted in writing within seven days. 

This is not the first time in recent weeks that the SIU’s intervention at Prasa has come before Parliament. 

On 16 May, the SIU outlined its investigations at the rail agency. It asked for a new proclamation to deal with allegations that are different to those covered in a previous proclamation.

Focuses of the new investigation will include the irregular salary of one of the former CEOs of Prasa, the SA Fence and Gate contract and the doomed procurement of locomotives from Swifambo Rail Leasing. It will also focus on Siyangena Technologies and the procurement of Royal Security and related companies. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Royal Security — founded by State Capture ‘kingpin’ Roy Moodley — bags R282m contract in DA-led Western Cape

During his report on actions stemming from the recommendations of the Zondo Commission — one of which included establishing another inquiry into why Prasa was allowed to collapse — President Cyril Ramaphosa said the executive would wait until investigations by the Hawks and SIU were complete before deciding on the establishment of a commission of inquiry. DM

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