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The Portfolio Committee on Transport today heard that the Department of Transport met with the Public Protector last week to brief her office on progress in following the recommendations of the Pubic Protector’s 2015 Derailed report on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). The Department had been invited to appear before the Committee to brief it on progress made towards complying with the remedial actions recommended in the report.

The Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Maswanganyi, led a strong departmental delegation to appear before the Committee, compromising among others the Acting Director-General, Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama. Mr Maswanganyi told Committee Members that Prasa was in the process of implementing the remedial actions. “The parastatal has appointed forensic investigators to investigate some of the allegations. Criminal cases were opened and, in some cases, legal opinions were received in order to advise Prasa regarding the legal ramifications of the actions of some of its officials,” Mr Maswanganyi said.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, said the Committee has realised a plethora of things regarding Prasa. “The Committee has been requested by Parliament to identify the challenges in Prasa. We have been able to compile a report on our interactions since 2013 on Prasa matters. The Committee is aware Prasa has a new board to implement the remedial action of the Public Protector,” Ms Magadzi said.

She said a number of things that had been highlighted in the Public Protector including the purchase of oversized trains. She also wanted to know about investigations by Werksman Attorneys.

Committee Member Mr Leornard Ramatlakane commented that the people who should be answering critical questions were not present. “The Minister is not a functionary. It is the Board who must answer the questions. Appointment of various service providers currently is a challenge. Who appointed these, were these appointments legal, did they follow legal procedures, is there money to pay for these?” he asked.

Mr Ramatlakane said it seemed Prasa did not have the budget to contract service providers, and “as a result we took a view that the money paid to Werksman was irregular and did not follow procedures. This is a concern for the Committee. We need to have further meetings with the Board. They must account, they inherited the mess. They need to tell us how they will clean this mess,” he said.

Committee Member Mr Terence Mpanza said this was not a good start for the Prasa board and, furthermore, it was disappointing that not a single person from Prasa management was present.

Sibongile Maputi

14 November 2017