News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
17 Mar 2017
4:31 pm

Judgment in Prasa board case reserved

Ilse de Lange

They had asked the court to set aside Transport Minister Dipuo Peters' decision to dissolve the board as irrational and unlawful.

Popo Molefe. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier).

Judgment is only expected next week in an urgent court application by the ousted Prasa board for their reinstatement. Judge Peter Mabuse yesterday reserved judgment in the High Court in Pretoria in the application by ousted Prasa board chair Popo Molefe and members of the board, which was dissolved by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters last month.

The ousted board asked the court to set aside the minister’s decision as irrational and unlawful and wants the court to reinstate them and stop Peters from replacing them with an interim board, which has already been named.

Counsel for the applicants David Unterhalter SC argued Peters had never given an inkling that she felt their decision to fire acting Prasa group CEO Collins Letsoalo for organising a 350 percent raise for himself without the board’s approval was unlawful. She also gave no inkling that she had accepted Letsoalo’s explanation about his astronomical raise and was considering the drastic step of disbanding the whole board.

Molefe alleged in court papers he only found out about Letsoalo’s massive increase while they were on a business trip in London. He said Letsoalo had denied the raise but he later found out Letsoalo had arranged the increase without reverting to the board and had already been receiving the salary for some time. Unterhalter argued that Prasa had been subjected to mismanagement for years when the board took over and that they had already made huge strides and were in the middle of massive court cases aimed at recovering monies.

Counsel for the Minister Etienne Labuschagne argued that the board was part of the problem and that Prasa had been driven to the brink if collapse with irregular expenditure increasing steadily under their watch. He said the board had for a long period acted in a manner which showed that they posed a threat to Prasa and the public and were themselves party to irregular expenditure.

He said although Molefe had repaid the bulk of the R1 million he owed Prasa, he still owed R300 000, while another board member owed R480 000, which he refused to repay.

“This is an institution in crisis under the board which now wants to be reappointed.

“… Their term of office expires in July, and they cannot sit thereafter. There is already an interim board in place,” he said.

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Popo Molefe heads to court to interdict sacking of Prasa board