Transport Minister Dipuo Peters Photo: Duane Daws

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters
Photo: Duane Daws

TRANSPORT Minister Dipuo Peters has written to the office of the auditor-general (AG) to request the chapter 9 State institution to conduct a forensic investigation into alleged financial and tender irregularities at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)‚ the transport ministry announced on Sunday.

It said in a statement that the minister had commissioned the AG’s office to look into alleged violations of the Public Finance Management Act and other related statutes regarding contracts‚ engagement of service providers and payments to service providers including but not limited to issues that have received wide media coverage recently.

“Given revelations of the recent past concerning the Passenger Rail Agency‚ I am of the singular view that an independent institution such as the office of the Auditor General‚ is better placed and empowered to look into financial affairs at Prasa with a view to identify areas of weakness and recommend corrective measures. I have been in consultation with the Board and senior management of Prasa in the past weeks. I have asked several questions‚ the responses of which largely inform my decision.

“It is worth noting that the AG’s office has previously produced reports regarding financial management at Prasa. I have thus requested the AG’s office to look into those past reports and immediately attend to identified areas of concern. As the Executive Authority I take primary responsibility for the affairs of State Owned Entities that are administratively and politically accountable to the Ministry of Transport‚” Ms Peters said.

The board of directors of Prasa‚ management‚ staff and other relevant stakeholders are expected to cooperate with and provide support to the AG’s office in its execution of this brief‚ she added.

“The Minister encourages the leadership of Prasa to remain focused on ensuring that trains continue to run daily and the efficient delivery of the New Rolling Stock programme‚” the ministry said.

The former group CEO of Prasa‚ Lucky Montana‚ has formally laid fraud and criminal charges at the Hillbrow police station against a number of Prasa executives.

Mr Montana wants police to investigate alleged tender fraud of R100m‚ and said he had provided the police with three files containing evidence of transactions and correspondence that he believed would assist the police in their case.

“As a good South African who believes in accountability and a corrupt-free society‚ it is important that I do the right thing when I see blatant disregard of our laws and legal processes that are in place to ensure that public money is spent for what it is intended for — especially where the taxpayer is ripped off‚” he said in a statement on Thursday. “I know of this corruption‚ I have the evidence and the honourable thing to do was to report this to the police.”

Earlier this month‚ Prasa ousted Mr Montana from the CEO post and also threatened criminal action against its former executive manager of engineering services in charge of a controversial R3.5bn locomotive deal after questions were raised over his academic qualifications.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ meanwhile‚ will on August 3 announce her findings on multiple allegations of corruption‚ fraud‚ nepotism and financial mismanagement at Prasa‚ first lodged with her office in 2012.