DA has financial mismanagement and other charges laid against Prasa board

The Democratic Alliance had charges of maladministration, fraud and corruption laid against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's board (Prasa) on Friday.

The charges are based on a draft Auditor-General report - leaked to the party - which details shocking allegations of financial mismanagement and possible breaches of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA) at the rail agency.

READ: Prasa operating without a valid safety permit - Railway Safety Regulator

The DA's transport spokesperson Manny de Freitas and police spokesperson Zakhele Mbhele delivered a joint statement on Friday after their visit to the Cape Town central police station.

Prasa has failed to table its 2017/18 annual report, which is 318 days overdue.

"And this report in the DA's possession, shows why they have been reluctant to do so," De Freitas and Mbhele said.

Allegations in the leaked draft report include that:

  • Prasa systems are inadequate to identify irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure;
  • tenders failed to comply with respective laws, regulations and were not transparent. Tenders audited by the AG allegedly had irregularities related to the method of selection of a service provider and had questionable bid processes; and
  • there were major issues with the remuneration of Prasa employees. According to the report, some executives allegedly received remuneration illegally or incorrectly.

"The DA hopes the South African Police Services (SAPS) will prioritise these charges to ensure that all those responsible for our failing railway system are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," De Freitas and Mbhele said.

"These board members presided over a complete collapse in governance at the entity which has affected the quality of services and the efficient running of the public transport system.

"With the ever-increasing fuel prices, trains remain the cheapest mode of transport for South Africans and it's vital that the backbone of South Africa's public transport network gets back on track."

After the DA released the report to the media earlier this week, Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani told Fin24 that the company would not respond to queries about the leaked report because it did not come from Prasa.