One of Popo Molefe’s last acts as Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) chairperson was to send a scathing letter to Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza over his unit’s alleged failure to probe suspicious tenders worth billions of rand.
On WednesdayTransport Minister Dipuo Peters dissolved Prasa’s board. Molefe told eNCA that he had not received a letter from Peters informing him of the decision. He claimed that the dissolution of the board was “a move to shield Collins Letsoalo”, the acting chief executive who has refused to quit despite a decision by the board on February 27.
News24 has obtained a letter Molefe sent to Ntlemeza on February 13, in which the former Prasa chairperson says the Hawks “failed to comply with its constitutional and statutory obligations to investigate these matters [the allegedly crooked contracts] and to bring the investigations to finality”.
Following the axing of Prasa chief executive Lucky Montana in July 2015, the Prasa board laid criminal complaints relating to tenders worth more than R7-billion awarded during his tenure.
The most significant of these were contracts worth R4-billion awarded to local technology firm Siyangena Technologies and a R3.5-billion tender for the acquisition of locomotives found to be unsuitable for South Africa’s rail network.
In his letter to Ntlemeza, Molefe describes the contracts as involving “substantial amounts of public monies”.
The investigations “relate to tender irregularities and associated unlawful activity that has a detrimental effect on public transport delivery affecting South Africans nationally and concern the diversion of substantial amounts of public monies for personal gain and corruption”.
Molefe accuses the Hawks of having stalled the probes, despite having access to a multitude of information and evidence about alleged corruption and other transgressions sprouting from the tenders.
“In light of the nature of the matters, I am deeply concerned that South African citizens and the fiscus are prejudiced by the fact that the DPCI [Hawks] has done nothing tangible to respond effectively to these matters, despite Prasa’s ongoing co-operation and assistance,” Molefe wrote.
It appears the purpose of Molefe’s letter was to force the Hawks to provide Prasa with an update on the two probes.
Molefe wanted Ntlemeza “to advise [Prasa] within seven days” about “the number and identities of [the] investigating officers and DPCI officials … assigned to each matter” and “the identity of the person or persons under whose command the teams are working”. – News24