Five months before Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) CEO Lucky Montana was due to step down, he was on Thursday released from his position.
The Prasa board made the announcement on Thursday, saying that his notice period had also been cut short.
It appears that Montana was dismissed because of his public statements attacking the board.
The Mail & Guardian understands the board had accused Montana of insubordination and bad procurement practice relating to Prasa’s new locomotives.
Spokesperson Sipho Sithole said reasons for Monatana’s dismissal would be made public on Friday.
Chief operating officer Nathi Khena will act as an interim CEO.
Montana had reportedly clashed with Prasa non-executive chairperson Popo Molefe, whom he accused of meddling.
Most recently, Montana rubbished an article in the Rapport newspaper that Prasa’s own engineers had warned in a report that its new Afro 4000 diesel locomotives, bought from Spain at a cost of R600m, were too tall for existing infrastructure.
Montana refuted the allegations, saying his detractors wanted to tarnish him.
At the same time, Business Day reported that Prasa deviated from its payments schedule in a contract to buy Spanish locomotives, paying winning consortium Swifambo Rail Leasing about R40-million more than was stipulated.
Other reports raised questions about Montana’s relationship with businesspeople who have been awarded large contracts by Prasa.
City Press newspaper reported about a dodgy property deal that connected Montana to a security company that had been awareded a Prasa tender worth R3-billion.
The paper then reported that a house in the Cape Town suburb of Oranjezicht and a sports car linked Montana to another businessperson — Patricia Norris — whose Commuter Transport Engineering company has for years been receiving contracts from Prasa for, among other things, the repair and renovation of Metrorail train coaches.