South Africa

GROUNDUP

Criminal case against former Prasa boss kicked down the tracks – again

Criminal case against former Prasa boss kicked down the tracks – again
Former acting CEO of Prasa's rail division, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, was charged in 2019, yet the case is still ongoing. The latest instalment played out on Thursday, 26 October, in the Gqeberha Regional Court. (Photo: Steve Kretzmann)

The former acting CEO of Prasa's rail division and a Cape Town businessman were arrested in 2019 over the sale of 42km of railway line.

The case against Mthuthuzeli Swartz, the former acting CEO of the rail division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), and Cape Town businessman Syed Mohiudeen, who are accused of selling 42km of railway line in the Eastern Cape, was again postponed in the Gqeberha Regional Court on Thursday, 26 October 2023.

The case, ongoing for more than four years since Swartz and Mohiudeen were arrested and charged in early 2019, has seen numerous postponements, the last one on 14 August. The postponements have been due to a review application in the Eastern Cape High Court, filed in February this year, in which Mohiudeen is seeking further details of the charges against him.

The charges are that Mohiudeen and Swartz sold the disused railway line between Sterkstroom and Maclear in the Eastern Cape to cousins Adrian and Cedric Samuels of Cape Town in 2012. It is alleged the cousins paid a deposit of R1.5-million to Mohiudeen’s company, Spanish Ice, for the steel, 25,000 tons of which was allegedly already available, being held in storage at the Metrorail yard in Woodstock. At the time, Swartz was Metrorail’s Western Cape regional manager.

Prior to the charges, but while under investigation, he was appointed as acting CEO on 1 January 2018.

Neither Swartz nor Mohiudeen was present at the Gqeberha Regional Court on Thursday, and both lawyers representing the State and Swartz were stand-ins. No representative for Mohiudeen was present and attorney Julian Lindoor, representing Swartz as a stand-in for advocate Mzwamadoda Mnyani, told Magistrate Essie Mkhari there had been no correspondence from Mohiudeen’s attorney.

Mthuthuzeli Swartz, former acting CEO of Prasa’s rail division, gives an interview in 2014. (Archive photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana)

Postponed three or four times

Lindoor told the magistrate that the case had been postponed “on three or four occasions” because of Mohiudeen’s review before the High Court, which was  instituted after the previous magistrate, Nolitha Bara, refused further particulars of the charges be provided to Mohiudeen.

Lindoor asked the court to issue warrants of arrest, but to hold Swartz’s warrant over until the next court appearance.

But the magistrate said she was not able to issue a warrant, as she was unable to read the handwritten records on the court file indicating whether a warrant had previously been issued.

However, she said a warrant against Mohiudeen appeared to have been stayed.

Prosecuting attorney Maryke Kruger, standing in for Gerrit van der Merwe, was also unable to read the record.

The magistrate said the issue of warrants and bail money would be held over until the next court date, 1 December.

When GroundUp asked Kruger for further information on the matter of bail money, and whether it had been paid, Kruger said she did not know as she was not familiar with the case. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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