Dismissed and unemployed, but not deterred to continue her fight against what she has described as “an unfair dismissal”, former head of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) legal division Martha Ngoye has poured her heart out to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, about the reprisals she had to endure as a whistleblower.
Credited for saving the financially-crippled Prasa billions, Ngoye was among several executives dismissed by the board chaired by Leonard Ramatlakane, who last month announced that the state-owned enterprise’s (SOE’s) three executives, who also included Nkosinathi Khena and Pearl Munthali, had overstayed the five-year terms of their contracts.
At the time, Ramatlakane also announced that Prasa had resolved to institute legal proceedings against Ngoye for unlawfully approving payment of R58 million to SA Fence & Gate “when she had no authority to do”, and against Khena for the financial loss the SOE suffered due to “unlawful conduct”.
Testifying before the Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture, which this week has been hearing evidence relating to allegations of corruption at Prasa, Ngoye told Zondo about the impact of speaking out against wrongdoing at Prasa.
“Coming back to testify at the commission evokes mixed emotions in the light of what has transpired. I am no longer employed at Prasa.
“Chair you have called on people who have witnessed the state capture to come to the commission and testify. These are people that witnessed the capture, those who benefited, and those who assisted in the capture, whose actions saw them being elevated to positions they did not deserve. There are also those who looked the other way.
“Those like myself, regarded by the main actors as dangerous, have been pushed out of their jobs and rendered lepers. When I first came to testify at this commission, I was an employee of Prasa. But I was ultimately pushed out of the organisation by the board of Prasa, based on spurious reasons.
“The board, which has been there for four months, lodged a smear campaign against me, dismissing me unlawfully.
“While they have been seemingly been engaging with [former Prasa CEO] Lucky Montana, they have never asked for an engagement with me.”
Ngoye told the commission that her case against Prasa was now before the Labour Court.
Ngoye has been the central figure at the rail agency in its fight against corruption, helping Prasa win court victories against service providers Swifambo, Siyangena and Siyaya.
Her earlier testimony at the commission revealed the depths of Montana’s alleged corrupt leadership of Prasa, which cost the taxpayers billions.