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The terms of reference for an enquiry into governance challenges and contracts at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) have been finalised and will today be submitted to the office of the House Chair of Committees.

The Portfolio Committee on Transport deliberated on the document and agreed to allocate itself 120 days to conclude the investigation. The committee Chairperson, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, said the committee will make the necessary application for sitting extra days.

“Even if it means we sit three times a week to deal with matters of Prasa, the committee will [do this]. We have allocated 120, which amounts to four months, but ideally the investigations should happen within a shorter space of time. That would be a great service to the people,” she said.

Committee member Mr Leonard Ramatlakane had earlier raised concerns about members receiving anonymous threatening messages regarding the pending Prasa investigation. “Nothing will deter the committee. There is nothing that will stop this committee from holding officials accountable. We will continue and intensify in terms of accountability. We will get deeper and deeper into the issues. Sending members messages will not deter us,” Mr Ramatlakane said.

Committee member Mr Manny De Freitas said it was illegal to intimidate MPs and that the Speaker needed to be notified. “At this stage, an inquiry has not even started. This is highly irregular. This is the people’s Parliament and citizen participation is encouraged,” he said.

Ms Magadzi agreed, saying threats to the committee were regrettable. She read one message and said: “We will do our work without fear or favour, and will not shy away from facing what is real and in the interest of South Africa. We will hold management accountable even if we continue to receive the messages.”

The messages the Chairperson received have been submitted to the police.

The committee also received a briefing on the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, which will regulate and licence drivers using e-hailing services. The committee hopes to finalise the amendment bill next week. A private members bill was also tabled dealing mainly with the consultation and alternative roads during the construction of toll roads.

Sibongile Maputi

13 March 2018