Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday welcomed the Constitutional Court decision to dismiss with costs, an application by Swifambo Rail Leasing on the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) AFRO4000 locomotives.
“Throughout this long, painstaking legal process and impediments thrown our way, we remained resilient, undeterred and resolute in our commitment to leave no stone unturned to fight against corruption and state capture,” Nzimande said.
Controversial locomotive supplier Swifambo was appealing the 2017 decision by the North Gauteng High Court to set aside the R3.5 billion contract with Prasa.
The High Court in November dismissed the appeal by Swifambo to review and set aside the awarding of the contract, after which Swifambo approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
The SCA, in November 2018, agreed that “the tender was procured through corruption” and that Prasa’s specifications for the new locomotives were “tailor-made for the benefit of Vossloh, and thus Swifambo”.
It also affirmed the High Court’s decision that Swifambo had been part of a “fronting practice”. The diesel locomotives came under the spotlight after it emerged that the locomotives were taller than existing overhead power lines.
Only 13 of the 70 Afro4000 diesel locomotives have so far been delivered to Prasa supplied by Vossloh España, a Valencia-based rail company, with Swifambo as its Black Economic Empowerment partner.
Nzimande said that this decision confirmed that South Africa was a constitutional state where justice was guaranteed in support of democracy.
Nzimande has directed Prasa’s board to ensure that it takes appropriate corrective measures and necessary internal disciplinary measures against all those who were involved in the procurement of these locomotives.
This involves issues of serious governance breaches, weak internal controls, particularly in the supply chain management as was disclosed by the Auditor-General and the Public Protector, including other internal investigations.
Nzimande said these measures should also include decisions regarding the current fleet of the AFRO4000 which are in the possession of Prasa.
“The end of this tedious journey leaves us with several lessons with regard to prudent utilisation of public funds and it also forces us to reflect on contract management, especially when it concerns contracts of this magnitude,” he said.
“I am expecting the PRASA board to update me, within a month from now, on all the actions that will be undertaken in the wake of this judgment.”
– African News Agency (ANA)