Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) group chief executive Lucky Montana pressed charges of fraud and corruption against SA Fence & Gate on Wednesday.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Montana accused SA Fence & Gate of allegedly defrauding the state-owned entity. He said Prasa’s board had played an instrumental role in making sure the company was paid above the inflated tender amount it had already received from Prasa.
Montana told the M&G that SA Fence & Gate was awarded a tender in 2012 for R209-million, which was paid by Prasa. The company then billed Prasa an extra R45-million in accrued costs. The same company later requested R58-million from Prasa for an extension of the contract.
Montana said Palello Lebaka, an executive manager at Prasa’s technical division who served as acting group chief executive in January while Montana was on leave, granted the R58-million. Montana said that he reversed the payment on his return, terminated SA Fence & Gate’s contract and requested that the company pay back the money as they had failed to deliver.
”The problem started when I terminated the contract. But I didn’t just stop there, I asked that SA Fence & Gate repay the money it took from Prasa. I insisted that the guy [SA Fence & Gate director Moya Nape] provide original invoices, that’s why they got rid of me, because SA Fence & Gate is the leading donor to [Prasa chairperson] Popo Molefe’s foundation, the board is expected to just pay off the money,” he said.
Main cause of troubles
On Friday the M&G reported that a disputed tender given to a member of the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum (PBF) was the main cause of troubles at Prasa. Central to this is Montana, Molefe, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Nape.
The M&G saw fiery email communications between Montana, board members and Molefe. The M&G also saw SMS exchanges between Peters and Montana in which Peters appears to put pressure on Montana to pay a Prasa supplier who is a member of the ANC-aligned PBF â€“ SA Fence & Gate.
Montana told the M&G that new payments were made to SA Fence & Gate after he was fired from his position as group chief executive.
”I know that there has been a lot of pressure on the board. Some members felt that since I have been kicked out of the board, then it would be easier to pay SA Fence & Gate.
”I am not going to make life easier at those involved in crime. I believe a serious case of fraud and corruption has taken place,” he said.
Montana said SA Fence & Gate made ”donations” or ”contributions”, hence the pressure from the minister and Molefe.
He found out that the board was put under pressure to pay an additional R27-million this week and said Peters should institute a forensic investigation into SA Fence & Gate, but that ”it won’t be done because this company donated lots of money in April of this year, around R32-million.
”The thing is our own people were colluding with them,” said Montana
This is not the only problem Prasa faces. It was reported that the agency’s head of engineering, Daniel Mtimkulu, resigned on Monday before he could appear at an internal disciplinary hearing for lying about his qualifications.
Prasa spokesperson Sipho Sithole said a case of fraud was opened against Mtimkulu on July 18 at the Hillbrow police station.
Mtimkulu has been under scrutiny after it was alleged he was not registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa as required by law. His qualifications were also disputed.
Allegations were that Mtimkulu did not possess a BTech in engineering, a Master’s or doctoral degree, which he claimed to have obtained.
Mthimkulu came under the spotlight after claims that 13 of the 70 diesel locomotives Prasa had imported at a cost of R600-million were of a height that could cause damage to overheard electrical cables.
Montana said Prasa had double standards because the entity saw fit to pursue criminal charges against Mtimkulu but continued to pay a company that had taken more than R300-million of taxpayers’ money.