/ 10 July 2017

NPA eyeing prosecution over Prasa billions

No go: Only 13 out of 216 Prasa contracts were deemed regular.
No go: Only 13 out of 216 Prasa contracts were deemed regular.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) may decide at the end of July whether or not it will prosecute anyone over allegedly corrupt contracts worth billions of rands awarded by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

The NPA said that its Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) has received more than 60 lever arch files from the Hawks relating to criminal probes into Prasa’s R3.5-billion contract for the supply of new locomotives and contracts worth R4-billion for security-related products and services.

“Prosecutors were directed to furnish the head of [the] SCCU with a report by the end of July on whether the investigation is complete and a decision if so,” said NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.

“To provide any information on potential suspects or charges would be highly irregular and a violation of the rights of potential suspects,” added Mfaku.

The locomotives contract, awarded to Swifambo Rail Leasing in 2012, was recently reviewed and set aside by the High court in Johannesburg.

Judge EJ Francis’ scathing judgment highlighted the fundamentally corrupt nature of the contract awarded to Swifambo, a little-known company that was found to have maintained a “criminal” fronting relationship with the Spanish manufacturer of the locomotives.

Mfaku said the NPA will take the judgment into consideration.

“The NPA has noted the judgment of the High Court in the Prasa matter.

“The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in Johannesburg is working closely with criminal investigators from the Hawks and prosecutors from the SCCU in respect of the Prasa investigation and the judgment will be a factor to be considered in the ongoing investigations, which may lead to the recovery of any losses,” Mfaku said.

Siyangena Technologies
Apart from the Swifambo tender, the NPA was also busy deciding on possible prosecution over contracts worth R4bn awarded between 2011 and 2014 to technology firm Siyangena Technologies.

Rapport has previously revealed that Lucky Montana, Prasa’s erstwhile chief executive, bought properties worth R25m in cash transactions that were facilitated by a lawyer linked to Siyangena Technologies

Montana and Riaan van der Walt, the lawyer in question, have repeatedly denied that their “business relationship” was in any way linked to the contracts Siyangena secured from Prasa.

In August last year, News24 revealed that Siyangena had channelled payments in excess of a staggering R550-million to companies owned by Roy Moodley, a politically-connected businessman from Durban with close links to President Jacob Zuma.

Asked about the latest developments in the NPA’s possible prosecution in relation to the Swifambo and Siyangena contracts, Auswell Mashaba and Pragason Subba Reddy, the two companies’ respective managing directors, said that they were not aware of any new developments. – News24