Popo Molefe slates Hawks for taking slow train to investigate Prasa
A letter reportedly reveals that Molefe was frustrated by the Hawks' alleged failure to investigate suspect tenders worth billions of rands.
Popo Molefe. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier).
As the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) faces more woes following the axing of its board by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Wednesday, it has emerged that the board’s ousted chairperson, Popo Molefe, reportedly wrote a scathing letter to Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza to complain about the unit’s alleged failure to investigate suspect tenders worth billions of rand.
According to a News24 report, in the letter dated February 13, Molefe slammed the Hawks, saying they had “failed to comply with its constitutional and statutory obligations to investigate these matters [the allegedly crooked contracts] and to bring the investigations to finality”.
In 2015, the railway agency’s board laid criminal charges relating to tenders worth more than R7 billion that were awarded during former CEO Lucky Montana’s tenure.
Molefe is reported to have criticised the Hawks in the letter for dragging their feet in probing the tenders involving “substantial amounts of public monies”. This is despite him asserting the Hawks had access to information and evidence about alleged corruption at the state-owned rail company.
“It appears the purpose of Molefe’s letter was to force the Hawks to provide Prasa with an update on the two probes.
“Molefe wanted Ntlemeza ‘to advise [Prasa] within seven days’ about ‘the number and identities of [the] investigating officers and DPCI officials … assigned to each matter’ and ‘the identity of the person or persons under whose command the teams are working,’” the report stated.
On Wednesday, the parliamentary committee on transport decided to establish an inquiry into Prasa’s affairs and to appoint an interim board before a permanent one is instituted in July.
The decision followed a heated two days of hearings with transport officials, the board and fired CEO Collins Letsoalo, whose secondment from the department to Prasa as acting group chief executive was ended after it emerged that he had been given a 350% increase, hiking his salary to R5.9 million.
Molefe has vowed to challenge the decision to dissolve the board, as he believes the transport minister took the decision to protect Letsoalo.