The former board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) racked up irregular expenditure of R127-million on an investigation into maladministration and corruption at the agency, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Monday.
She criticised the board, which she dissolved last week, for allowing public money to be spent in such a fashion.
“I expressed my concern over the long and protracted investigation by Werksmans Attorneys. My concern was that the investigation seemed endless and without a clear scope and a specific objective,” she told reporters in Tshwane.
The cost of the investigation was initially reported to be about R80-million.
She said the former board had failed to determine a deadline and a budget for the investigation and that her department had written to the board to demand that it manage the irregular expenditure.
Investigations will continue
The board, with Peters’ approval, instituted a forensic investigation into Prasa. This followed former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning report, titled Derailed , which she released in August 2015.
She found widespread evidence of maladministration, improper conduct and nepotism at Prasa. She instructed the rail agency and the treasury to investigate all Prasa contracts valued above R10-million.
Peters denied former Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe’s claims that the board was dissolved to frustrate its investigations. The investigation would continue, she said.
“The historical information is there. The management of Prasa is still in place. The acting group chief executive is also the company secretary, so the institutional memory is there. There is no prejudice the investigation will suffer as a result of this intervention,” she said.
On Saturday, Molefe filed an urgent application to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to have the decision to dissolve the Prasa board set aside.
Molefe and the other sacked Prasa directors want the court to declare the board’s dissolution unlawful, reinstate them and prevent an interim board from being appointed. —News24