Popo Molefe challenges Prasa board dissolution

Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe. (Gallo)

Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe. (Gallo)

Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board members are heading to the High Court in Pretoria to have the board’s dissolution set aside on Thursday.

Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe filed an urgent application for the court to declare the board’s dissolution unlawful, reinstate the board members to their former positions, and prevent an interim board from being appointed.

Meanwhile ousted acting group chief executive Collins Letsoalo has asked to join the application as a respondent. Letsoalo said the board had made false allegations in the founding affidavit which seek to tarnish his reputation.

He urged the board to consider postponing its court appearance to allow him time to file his own court papers.

According to Molefe’s founding affidavit, filed on Saturday, the decision to remove the board members and the notices of removal are “plainly unlawful and must be set aside” to prevent irremediable damage, uphold legality and vindicate public interest.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters’ “blatant unlawful conduct and failure to reverse course or engage with the applicants timeously” warranted a punitive costs order, Molefe’s court papers read.

R14-billion in irregular expenditure
“The public’s interest in Prasa and the make-up of the board and the need for proper corporate governance is underscored by the investigations conducted by the offices of the Public Protector and the report of the Auditor General in 2015, which uncovered irregular expenditure at Prasa.

“As a result of these findings, and in terms of its obligations under the [Public Finance and Management Act], the relevant directors conducted an internal investigation in Prasa,” the court papers stated.

“This investigation has, to date, uncovered the true extent of fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure at Prasa totalling at least approximately R14-billion.”

Following the resignation of Lucky Montana as group chief executive officer in July 2015, an acting group chief executive officer was appointed and the directors in February 2016 submitted a list of preferred candidates to the minister, the affidavit reads.

It was believed that a permanent group chief executive officer would help stabilise the agency and improve performance, but despite attempts, the minister would not engage with the board, Molefe states.

Peters instated an interim board on Monday against the advice of Molefe’s lawyers.

The interim board is chaired by former Sanral chief executive Nazir Ali. – News24

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