Former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) CEO Lucky Montana told the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture that claims of him abusing his powers were “laughable”.
The commission was dealing with Prasa general manager for legal services Fani Dingiswayo‘s affidavit on Tuesday morning.
This is after Zondo heard last year that Montana allegedly fired Dingiswayo, who did not back an “irregular” tender.
Dingiswayo told the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that Montana created a parallel structure at Prasa to advance his personal interests and deal with those who stood in his way.
The Prasa official further said there were a number of individuals and service providers who had undue influence at the railway agency, which was a concern and that these individuals included businessmen Roy Moodley and Makhensa Mabunda.
During the proceedings, evidence leader Vas Soni asked Montana about allegations that he abused his powers as CEO of Prasa, which he said was “laughable” and “not based on fact”.
“Chair, it’s laughable what he [Dingiswayo] is saying there because I was the CEO of Prasa and I was accountable for it’s performance to the board of Prasa. So management had ultimately supported me in fulfilling the mandate of the board,” Montana said.
“They were not independent of me so if someone like Dingiswayo or Martha Ngoye wanted a life of their own and pursue something I didn’t even instruct them do to or it was not in line with our strategy I had to act.
“Of course he [Dingiswayo] doesn’t describe what is the issue cross path so I assume that if it’s a cross path… meaning if you do wrong things I’ll deal with it,” he said.
Montana said that some people – referring to Dingiswayo – sought to present themselves as “corruption busters”.
The former Prasa boss added that Dingiswayo never actually reported to him and had never given him a “single instruction” during his tenure.
He said certain executive members aligned themselves with former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe when his relationship with Molefe collapsed.
Montana said Dingiswayo’s claim he was dismissed for questioning the validity of Prasa’s contract with Prodigy Business Enterprises was false.
Prasa contracted Prodigy to provide training to the railway agency’s employees from 2011 to 2016.
However, the business relationship went off the tracks around November 2015, when Prodigy was informed the contract was suspended until further notice.
Meanwhile, Montana further told the commission that Dingiswayo was not employed at Prasa by the time the contract with Prodigy was signed.
He said those calling him a dictator today had turned against him despite him appointing them.
“I’m the one that recommended [Martha Ngoye] as an executive chair. The people who say today ‘I am a dictator, you can’t stand on my path’ were appointed by me, even Mr Dingiswayo,” he said.
Ngoye, Prasa group executive of legal risk and compliance, told the commission last year there was a sense of fear during Montana’s tenure at Prasa.
To which Montana said the same people were part of an agenda to discredit him, alongside Molefe.
“So when I allowed her to act into that position in December 2014 that’s when they went on an offensive strategy with Mr Molefe to investigate to try and find all sorts of things. I want to demonstrate here at the commission… I’ll prove each and every [allegation against me] to be false.
“The [allegations] are part of an agenda to try to discredit me and at the heart of it were people who met with Mr Molefe behind my back to try to build a case,” he said.
Watch the proceedings below, courtesy of the SABC:
Additional reporting from Sipho Mabena