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Determined to fix Prasa

Mbalula defends effort to bring some stability to entity, appointment of administrator.

CAPE ARGUS, by Mayibongwe Maqhna

TRANSPORT Minister Fikile Mbalula has defended the appointment of Bonginkosi Mpondo as an administrator at Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) after dissolving the interim board.

“It is something that had to be done. It is something done within the prescript of the law,” he said yesterday.

The minister told MPs that he had followed the due process in appointing Mpondo after the then interim board did not perform its duty.

He explained in detail the process he followed including consulting President Cyril Ramaphosa, National Treasury and the Cabinet before dissolving the board and appointing Mpondo last year.

Mbalula made the statement when briefing the transport portfolio committee on the appointment and plans to address challenges at the entity.

The briefing came at a time when he is facing a legal challenge from civil society coalition, #UniteBehind.

Mbalula said the auditor-general issued reports in successive years that were not good about Prasa and there was infighting between ministers, the boards and management.

“The things we are answering with the director-general date back to 2012,” he said.

Earlier Mbalula told the committee how Prasa had over fie years seen its revenue decline by 48%, resulting in its operating deficit reaching R1.8billion.

The entity’s operational performance had continued to decline with notable stagnation in 2015 and 2016 in its on-time performance, and its safety record plunging to unprecedented levels in 2016.

Mbalula said in less than a year at the department, he has taken decisions to fix the ailing entity, including closing the Cape Town central line corridor for refurbishment.

“I would rather be insulted by the communities for the truth than lie to them saying I will fix this today and then tomorrow it goes down,” he said.

Justifying his decisions, he said: “I am informed by the state of the entity. I am informed by ineptitude. I am informed by rogueness and by the place that has totally collapsed and which I characterised as a broken place.”

Mbalula added the biggest success of Mpondo’s stay at Prasa would be to deal with malfeasance and lack of corporate governance.

He wanted Prasa to have “some level of stability within a year”.

“I’m worried by the fact that I have to go to court and defend the case…”

Mbalula said that instead of being engaged in fights, he needed support and that the intervention at Prasa was important.

SAPS recover poached abalone

Cape Times

Police have arrested two foreign nationals alleged to have had R81149 worth of abalone stored in a house in Kommissaris Street in Welgemoed. Provincial police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo said that the Bellville police had received a tip-off about the house in Welgemoed and that prior to the arrest on Saturday January 25, a high-speed chase had taken place to catch the suspects. Mr Malo said: “The members conducted further investigations and spotted suspects in the area who fled upon police arrival. “A high-speed chase led to the arrests of two foreign nationals in Jip de Jager Drive.” The officers then returned to the Welgemoed residence and found 1038 units of abalone. The pair will appear in court on Friday January 31 and were part of 50 poachers arrested in the province over the weekend by police and SANParks.

Polisie vind dwelms van R5,6miljoen in motor

Die Burger – Arisa Janse van Rensburg

‘n 27-jarige man is Saterdag in hegtenis geneem nadat die polisie beslag gele^ het op dwelms ter waarde van R5,6miljoen.

Volgens ‘n verklaring deur die Wes-Kaapse polisie was die man vermoedelik van Johannesburg na Kaapstad onderweg toe polisielede en die provinsiale verkeersowerheid sy voertuig in Laingsburg afgekeer het.

“Die span was besig met ‘n ondersoek op die N1 toe hulle ‘n silwerkleurige ligtevoertuig sien. Lede van die span het die voertuig van die pad afgetrek.

Hulle het 15 sakke tik (gekristalliseerde metamfetamien) in die motor gekry.

“Die dwelms het 16kg geweeg en die waarde word op R5,6miljoen geskat,” lui die verklaring.

Die dwelms is in ‘n geheime kompartement in die voertuig versteek.

Die dwelms en voertuig is as bewysstukke by die polisie ingehandig.

Die man sal na verwagting vandag in die landdroshof in Laingsburg verskyn.

In ‘n onverwante voorval is nog twee mans Saterdagaand in die Wes-Kaap in hegtenis geneem.

Twee mans, ‘n 57-jarige en ‘n 32-jarige, is in hegtenis geneem vir die onwettige besit van wapens en ammunisie.

Die Wes-Kaapse polisie het Saterdagoggend ook ‘n 17-jarige persoon op soorteglyke klagte in hegtenis geneem.

Die verdagtes sal almal na verwagting vandag in die landdroshof in Athlone verskyn.

R1,1m. se tik in woonstel gevind

Die Burger – Malherbe Nienaber

Die polisie in Kaapstad het Saterdag ‘n vermeende dwelmhandelaar se woonstel in Century City deursoek en op tik van R1,1miljoen beslag gele^.

Kol. Andre Traut, ‘n provinsiale polisiewoordvoerder, se^ die polisie het inligting gekry en vermoed dat die 49-jarige dwelmhandelaar die woonstel as sy “bergingsgeriewe” gebruik.

“Tydens die klopjag is daar op 3,15kg tik beslag gele^ en ‘n aansienlike bedrag kontant in verskeie geldeenhede.”

Die man is [in] hegtenis geneem en sal na verwagting vandag in die hof in Kaapstad verskyn.


Twee vas na daggavonds in Karoo

Die Burger

Twee mans is Saterdagaand in hegtenis geneem nadat 320kg dagga in ‘n vragmotor by Beaufort-Wes gevind is.

Kenny Africa, die provinsiale verkeershoof, het bevestig dat ‘n verkeersbeampte om 19:45 die twee mans op die N1 voorgekeer en op dagga met ‘n geraamde waarde van R640000 beslag gele^ het.

Toe lede die vragmotor deursoek, is 32 groot sakke met dagga gevind.

Africa se^ die 29-jarige en 32-jarige mans is in aanhouding in Beaufort-Wes en behoort binnekort in die hof te verskyn.

Public protector off the rails with second Prasa report, says #UniteBehind

Daily Maverick, article by Suné Payne

The public protector’s office is faced with yet another review of a report by Busisiwe Mkhwebane – this time it is #UniteBehind calling for the second volume of the Derailed report to be set aside by the courts.

“In short, a whitewash’’ is how #UniteBehind labels the public protector’s second volume of the Derailed report. The activist coalition on Monday afternoon said it had approached the North Gauteng High Court to set aside the report which had to investigate claims of corruption and maladministration at one of South Africa’s most embattled entities – the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Prasa.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report, released in May this year, is a follow-up to her predecessor Thuli Madonsela’s 2014 Derailed report. In Madonsela’s last report there were allegations of maladministration and wrongdoing at the state-owned entity, particularly levelled against high-ranking officials including then board chairperson Sfiso Buthelezi and former CEO Lucky Montana. 12

Read in Daily Maverick: Derailed: Will the public protector’s recommendations on Prasa fall on deaf ears?

Four years later, Mkhwebane’s report has no mention of Montana’s name and Buthelezi is cleared of any allegations. Buthelezi had been on the board of control for 10 years; for six of those he was chair of the board. 24

One of Madonsela’s roll-over issues that needed to be solved in the second volume was whether or not Buthelezi had a conflict of interest with a company that had business with Prasa. Allegedly, Buthelezi was the CEO of Makana, which was a subsidiary of a company called Cadiz. The company, Cadiz, was then alleged to have provided advisory services to the entity for its Rolling Stock Recapitalisation Project. If this was true, it would have been a conflict of interest, which needed to be investigated by the public protector, in this case, Mkhwebane.

However, in her report, Mkhwebane found the allegation that Buthelezi failed to disclose his interest in Makana “is not substantiated by the evidence received”. Additionally, the report cleared Buthelezi by stating “no evidence was found that the company concerned was providing advisory services to Prasa on the Rolling Stock Programme, as alleged”. 21

In 2017, Buthelezi was appointed deputy finance minister and in 2018, was shifted to become deputy agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister and now serves as chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Appropriations in Parliament. 17

But #UniteBehind, in a statement released on Monday, first described the report as “in short, a whitewash” and then went on to say, “PP Mkhwebane did almost nothing to further the investigations. She did not obtain a single new piece of evidence… She interviewed only three new people, none of whom were implicated in the allegations and appears not to have issued subpoenas. None of the whistle-blower employees in Prasa, who had alleged intimidation and victimisation at Prasa, were interviewed.” 38

In its affidavit, #UniteBehind stated, “The financial irregularities, mismanagement and abuse at Prasa have had a serious detrimental impact on the socio-economic rights of working-class commuters… These are essential steps for ensuring that Prasa is able to provide a safe, reliable and cost-effective commuter rail service.”

#UniteBehind wants the second volume of the Derailed report set aside with a cost order against the public protector herself. 115

This is not the first time a report by Mkhwebane, who is in her third year of office has come under review. Two reports related to Absa/Bankcorp have been set aside, and another related to the Vrede dairy farm case, according to News24. Additionally, Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, a horse-racing company, filed an interdict preventing the remedial actions of the public protector’s actions to be undertaken. Read that story here. There is also the upcoming Independent Police Investigate Directorate review, featuring eight former and current members, including former IPID boss Robert McBride. 1

Oupa Selagwe, spokesperson for the Public Protector, told Daily Maverick: “The Public Protector is aware of the court action by #UniteBehind against her report on Prasa. #UniteBehind were not a party in that matter – they were neither the complainants nor were they the respondents but we’ve seen previously the courts granting such applicants jurisdiction on the grounds of whatever they are pursuing in the public interest. Be that as it may, the Public Protector will be opposing that particular matter and she stands by her report.”

#UniteBehind wants Public Protector’s Prasa report set aside


JOHANNESBURG – Civil society coalition #UniteBehind wants the Public Protector’s 2019 report on Prasa set aside.

An application has been submitted to the North Gauteng High Court which Busisiwe Mkhwebane has opposed.

In 2015, Mkhwebane’s predecessor Thuli Madonsela released a report revealing widespread corruption at Prasa under the management of Lucky Montana.

#UniteBehind says some of the investigations and findings deferred by Madonsela have not been properly addressed in Mkhwebane’s new report.

READ: Personal cost orders set dangerous precedent: Mkhwebane

#UniteBehind’s Zackie Achmat explained.

“Section 195 of the Constitution requires that all state organs conduct themselves professionally, ethically and takes the needs of people into account that they are accountable and open.

“The most important protection for us is the public protector to ensure that the state the public service works properly.”

Achmat related the timeline of the investigations into corruption at the transport company and what the civil society group expected from Mkhwebane.

“What we know is that at least R14-billion, and probably much higher than that, has been stolen by a range of politically connected individuals ranging from Auswell MashabaMakhensa Mabunda, Roy Moodley, Arthur FraserMario Ferreira and so on, and they’ve done that with the connivance of the earliest board, led by Sfiso Buthelezi and the CEO Lucky Montana.

“What happened is that the previous public protector asked Treasury to do investigations on all contracts above R10-million over a three-year period.

“Over 216 contracts were investigated and about 203 of them were found to have been irregular, or had absent documentation and so on. In addition to that, Prasa itself started investigations and found contracts like Siyangena (R4,5-billion) Swifambo, which was the locomotives [were] too tall (R4,5-billion) and of course the public protector had to look at all their reports and see whether the action that she had ordered was followed up.”

Achmat reiterated, “she didn’t look at those at all. She, in fact, only looked at eight of the 11 remaining ones that the previous public protector asked her to look at. What she did with those eight, begs the following question: is the public protector incompetent, is she wilfully negligent, or does she actively have an ulterior motive? And that will be the question that will be before the courts.”

‘Ghost pupils’ allegedly netted former teacher R1m

MSN / Cape Times / Article by Chevon Booysen

A former Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet) teacher is expected to appear in court again next month on fraud charges to the tune of almost R1 million.

Hawks spokesperson Philani Nkwalase said Tasmyn Lynn Dorothy, 42, appeared in the Oudsthoorn Magistrate’s Court for alleged fraud on Agusut 12, following her arrest the same day.

“It is alleged that between January 2010 and May 2013 Dorothy, who worked as a teacher and a manager at different learning centres around Oudtshoorn, registered ghost learners, thereby inflating the actual numbers of registered students in order to gain financial benefits from the Western Cape Department of Education, which consequently lost R946538 from her illegal activities,” said Nkwalase.

The former teacher was released on R2500 bail until her next regional court date on September 6.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “The WCED was made aware of financial irregularities and investigated the matter.

“The case was handed over to provincial forensic services.”

Following an investigation, Dorothy was dismissed.

Onnie van Oudtshoor in hof na sy glo byna R1m. steel

Die Burger / artikel deur Ane van Zyl

‘n Voormalige onderwyseres wat in die Oudtshoorn-omgewing gewerk het, het in die landdroshof op die dorp verskyn op aanklagte van bedrog nadat sy na bewering sowat R1miljoen gesteel het.

Tasmyn Lynn Dorothy (42) word daarvan beskuldig dat sy tussen Januarie 2010 en Mei 2013 spookleerlinge geregistreer het en sodoende die werklike getal geregistreerde studente opgeblaas het om finansiële voordele by die Wes-Kaapse onderwysdepartement te kry. Sy het na bewering R946538 in haar sak gesteek.

Volgense kapt. Philani Nkwalase, woordvoerder van die Valke, het die beweerde bedrog aan die lig gekom na ‘n onlangse oudit deur die departement.

Hy sê Dorothy het Maandag in die hof verskyn nadat sy op dieselfde dag in hegtenis geneem is. “Dorothy het as onderwyseres en bestuurder by verskillende leersentrums rondom Oudtshoorn gewerk,” sê Nkwalase.

Die saak teen Dorothy is tot 6 September uitgestel vir die streekhofdatum. Sy is op borgtog van R2500 vrygelaat.