Minister directs PRASA to deal with corruption

Friday, July 22, 2022

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has directed the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) board to deal decisively with corruption and malfeasance through effective consequence management.

“This includes contracts previously identified as irregular, which include Swifambo and Siyangena contracts. Where corruption has been identified such as the insurance scam reported by management, these must be investigated and decisive action taken without delay,” Mbalula said on Thursday in a statement.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into irregular contracts at PRASA identified 44 employees in wrong-doing and consequences management was recommended in this regard.

PRASA has since taken the following actions against implicated employees, considering that 11 have since resigned and are no longer in the employ of PRASA.

Thirteen cases are in various stages of the disciplinary process; one employee was dismissed; one resigned; four were given 12 months final written warning; one was given a six month written warning; one employee is on suspension; eleven employees were found not guilty; and one employee was not disciplined, because there was no basis for discipline.

“In relation to the irregular Siyangena contract, three senior executives were implicated by the Zondo Commission. One such employee has since left the employ of PRASA and another resigned before disciplinary process could be initiated, while one has since been dismissed,” the Minister said.

With regards to the Swifambo contract, six senior executives are going through a disciplinary process. The Werkmans investigation, premised on the Public Protector’s “Derailed” report further identified irregularities, which were referred to the SIU for further investigation.

Consequent to the SIU report, five employees were implicated. Four of these employees were dismissed and there was insufficient evidence against one of these. One of the dismissed employees was reinstated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), but PRASA is taking the matter on review at the labour court.

From the Public Protector’s “Derailed” report, four employees were dismissed, but two were reinstated by the CCMA.

Ghost workers

The Minister said Operation Ziveze head count must be completed and identified ghost workers terminated from the payroll and culpable officials disciplined.

Project Ziveze was initiated by PRASA to physically verify all PRASA employees.

“With the identification of 3 000 employees who could not be verified their salaries were frozen. Since the freezing of salaries, more employees from those previously not verified came forward.

“A forensic investigation is currently underway on the possible ghost employees and how these found their way into the payroll system. Once the forensic investigation is concluded, action will be taken against those implicated,” the Minister said.

He said Requisite Supply Chain Management capacity must be built as a matter of urgency to ensure that procurement processes are not hindered by capacity challenges and adjudication of tenders is in line with the prescripts.

The Minister encouraged the board to expedite the filling of vacancies including the vacancy of the Group CEO.

“The approved security plan must be fully implemented with reinforcements of technological interventions such as drones and armoured vehicles deployed in the identified corridors,” Mbalula said.

Reconstruction and recovery underway in various corridors

On Wednesday, the Minister undertook an oversight inspection on the PRASA reconstruction and recovery work in various corridors in Gauteng.

The Minister noted the significant progress made by PRASA in relation to a number of areas identified as priority for the recovery of commuter rail corridors.

“The corridor recovery programme is making steady progress. This work must move at a brisker pace to alleviate the plight of those who rely on commuter rail for their livelihood.

Five of the 10 priority corridors have since been recovered and services are running.

“In Gauteng, the Mabopane and Saulsville lines to Pretoria as well as the Vereeniging to Union lines are now operational. In the Western Cape, the Northern Corridor between Cape Town and Bellville, the Southern Line to Simonstown as well as the Cape Flats line are operational.

“Plans to reopen sections of Central Line illegally occupied are at advanced stages and this we plan to do next week. In KwaZulu-Natal services have resumed on the Merebank to Durban and KwaMashu to Durban lines.

“In the Eastern Cape services have resumed in Gqeberha and East London using the diesel locomotives. In expediting the infrastructure rehabilitation work in some of the priority corridors, three lines have been temporarily closed for major repairs on the Naledi -Johannesburg, Johannesburg - Leralla and Pretoria - Pienaarspoort lines,” the Minister said.

Progress on these lines remain on course to meeting the planned deadlines for service resumption. PRASA has committed to returning the 10 priority corridors to service by the end of the calendar year. –