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The Portfolio Committee on Transport has heard that the interim Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) Board will meet next week to receive an update from Prasa Management on what it has done with the findings and recommendations contained in the reports of the Public Protector, the National Treasury and Werksman Attorneys.

The Chairperson of the Board, Adv. Tintswalo Makhubele, said the report of the National Treasury was complete, and that she has received the copy of the findings arising out of it.

The interim Prasa Board appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Transport at Parliament today to brief the Committee  on the late tabling of its 2016/17 Annual Report and Financial Statements, and on allegations of state capture at the entity

Adv. Makhubele said the state capture report does not mention Prasa anywhere in the report, but that a separate report – titled “Derailed” – dealt with governance challenges at Prasa and wasteful expenditure was also highlighted by the Public Protector. “Prasa is not featured in the state of capture report, rather an investigation was done by the Public Protector on widespread maladministration, improper conduct, human resource management, victimisation of whistle-blowers etc. and that the report is in the public domain,” she said.

She said Prasa was not running away from addressing the issues of state capture, and that Prasa will then submit a comprehensive plan on how it intends to implement those recommendations to the Committee. “We will consider in our special board meeting reports from management on how they have implemented the remedial actions of the public protector.”

Members of the Committee sought clarity on various issues relating to the recent history of Prasa including how Werksman Attorneys services were engaged without tendering, decisions taken by an inquorate board, billions wasted, board fees owed by former board members, senior managers on acting capacity etc.

Committee Member Mr Christiaan Humsinger commented that it was important to be clear on what should be investigated. “The Public Protector was clear on what needed to be done. Parliament also through Mr Cedric Frolick (National Assembly House Chair of Committees) was clear on what needed to happen on allegations of state capture. This Committee is anxious to proceed on that,” Mr Humsinger said.

He pointed out that the extent of wasteful and fruitless expenditure amounting to billions, was alluded to by former Prasa Chief Executive Officer, Mr Collins Letsoalo. He said the Committee needed to summon the Hawks on the progress of investigations. “We want to see accountability on what is happening at Prasa. You should do away with these acting positions so that we can reconfirm the credibility of the entity.”

Committee Member Mr Leornard Ramatlakane concurred and said the broader meeting should not only include Hawks, but also all those who conducted investigations on behalf of Prasa including Werksman Attorneys and the National Treasury.

It was revealed that the interim board had undertaken a human resource activity to audit the skills of the workforce at Prasa. But also that the delayed tabling of the annual report was due to governance challenges, that delayed the Auditor General finalising its audit of the entity.

Sibongile Maputi

24 November 2017