Prasa – further explosive revelations at Zondo Commission

More looting, no shareholder oversight, no accountability.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs proceedings during the first day of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held in Johannesburg. Image: Citizen

Popo Molefe, the former chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), appearing in front of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture, has wrapped up his testimony on corruption at Prasa.

Molefe was the chairperson of Prasa from August 1, 2014 to March 8, 2017.

The Swifambo tender

The Swifambo tender was originally a lease arrangement, which was changed to an outright purchase of locomotives for R3.5 billion. The tender was awarded by the former CEO Lucky Montana on March 25, 2013 (he resigned in 2016).

Auswell Mashaba, the chairperson of Swifambo, concerned about a Prasa investigation into irregularities, called for a meeting with Molefe at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton. Molefe said that Mashaba was only concerned that his assets may be impacted by an investigation, but did not elaborate on how.

Mashaba told Molefe that Maria Gomes (a fundraiser for the ANC), had instructed him to pay R80 million to her and Nkosi Sabelo. The payments were to be made through Similex, Gomes’s company, and to Nkosi Sabelo, for “the movement”.

Molefe alleged that Mashaba related to him that Gomes had said that it shouldn’t be difficult for Prasa to give 10% to “the movement”.

It is common understanding that “the movement” refers to the ANC. However, Molefe emphatically said that he had no evidence that the money went to the ANC.

The Swifambo tender was only set aside by the court in 2017. The locomotives should have been returned to the supplier and Prasa refunded. At the time, R2.6 billion had already been paid and only 13 locomotives delivered.

Emails between Lucky Montana and Maria Gomes

The evidence leader asked Molefe to comment on certain emails between Montana and Gomes in 2013 that had been discovered in the course of the Prasa investigation, in regard to the capital projects that Prasa would undertake, including the Moloto Rail Corridor at a cost R12 billion.

Molefe said that the alarming feature of the emails was the familiarity between Montana and Gomes, and that Montana had no business sharing details and costs of projects to be undertaken by Prasa. Molefe informed the commission that Similex has no dealings with Prasa – nor is Gomes involved in entities providing services to Prasa.

The Moloto Rail Corridor concept was only ditched in 2019, after some R18 million had already gone down the drain.

No one to turn to

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo noted that the allegations against Prasa went on for many years without the levels of corruption going down being noted. But when the Prasa board commenced an investigation it was attacked, even from quarters that should have offered it support.

When the Prasa board, under Molefe, commenced investigations, it was kicked out in 2017.

Molefe emphasised that his minister, that is, Dipuo Peters, was an executive member of the ANC, and was receiving regular reports on this investigation – even as she was trying to force closure to it.

Peters, as a member of the executive committee, reporting to cabinet and the president, was privy to all of the investigations.

Prasa had reported a series of cases to the Hawks for further investigation.

Zondo remarked that every person is supposed to report to the president so that he can see how that department or that minister is doing. Molefe confirms that there are regular reviews on performance, including regular reports and the budget forum, to ensure equitable allocation of resources.

Non-action by law enforcement agencies

Molefe wrote a series of letters to the National Prosecuting Authority and the head of the Hawks, including a complaint about the fact that nothing had been done about cases reported. His view was that it was improper for an organ of state charged with the responsibility of investigating crimes and offences and prosecuting, to do nothing.

Molefe also wrote to the Speaker of Parliament, and laid complaints with the SAPS and the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – DPCI).

Zondo remarked that it must have been frustrating to have to remind law enforcement agencies of what the Constitution says about their responsibility to do their jobs.

“State capture paralysed institutions so that they didn’t do their jobs properly.”

Molefe referred to Anwar Dramat, the head of the hawks who appeared to be effective. He was removed unceremoniously on spurious allegations. “Professional officers who put their teeth on cases  would be removed and replaced by cronies. Any police officer who dared touch any of the corruption cases became casualties who lost their jobs, he said.

Eventually Prasa had to go to court to get the law enforcement agency to do its job. After several attempts by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation to stop this, the matter was heard in court in May 2017. But by then the review applications of the Swifambo tender was set down to be heard in court.

Judge Denis Davis said: “I consider it inimical to the interests of justice that, where matters of public interest are concerned, organs of state indulge in costly squabbles of interlocutory and somewhat technical nature rather than engage with the merits of the matter in an expeditious, responsible and transparent manner.” And further: “It is to be deplored that organs of state engage in interlocutory skirmishes with each other whilst the main battle is raging around them and they, by their conduct delay any meaningful engagement therein.”

There was a deliberate crippling of law enforcement agencies

Zondo, seemingly exhausted by the corruption and non-action by the law enforcers, opined (paraphrased):

  • When you connect the dots you will see the common thread of corruption. The misery is caused to poor commuters.
  • There was no oversight. The replacing Prasa board did not pursue the matter with the same energy.
  • The different Ministers of Transport should have known about the litigation.
  • The relevant portfolio committee should have kept an eye on what the next board did, they should have asked why these matters were not being finalised.
  • It created the impression that any criminal cases arising on corruption in Prasa were not supposed to be investigated.
  • It is very very worrying.
  • We need a president who expects ministers to be asked difficult questions in the interests of the country. High levels of corruption need to be brought down. We need something quite drastic, a person who isn’t looking at re-election, but just wants to do the right thing. We need action, not words. The people must come first.

In closing, Zondo wished that more people will come forward to testify.

Evidence Advocate Vas Soni SC had the final word: “True patriotism is speaking truth to power in the most difficult circumstances.”

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COMMENTS   32

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SO what is actually the problem? Has the COGTA minister not explained clearly that crime cannot be seen as problematic since the spoils go back into the economy and in such manner replaces taxes and supports the growth of our economy? Surely this is a simple concept to understand! Of praat ek nou kopdoeke se kak?

Well, we are not surprised. Who is guarding the guards?

We need massive billboards all over South Africa stating: ZUMA AND HIS GOVERNMENT ROBBED THE POOR.
Maybe then the poor will wake up and stop supporting the criminals who have stolen everything from them in order to fill their own pockets.

Never underestimate the capacity of the poor to be stubborn on their choices.

The “poor” have had such a bad education under the ANC, that most would not be able to read and comprehend this.

worse is the fact that the majority that was in the middle of the struggle stays poor while a minority living in luxury in London and other countries came back to plunder

It will never change… no one in government has gonads big enough to take away the feeding trough. It remains a pipe dream. TIA

If you can get out – go or at least if you can’t leave, take your money out if you haven’t done so yet.

When SOE’s are there as a means for ANCcadres to loot for themselves and ‘as a fundraiser for theANC’, then you know how bad it really is in SA and why the electoral system needs urgent overhaul.

Also you have to question the inaction by CR himself. Was he asleep or on long vacation or what?

We need legal redress, prosecutions and jail time for all those responsible, before they ask the very funders for more money whom we still owe billions to.

He was complicit by his non action.

From a practical viewpoint, I think that if CR had spoken out against the top gangsters during the Zuma era, he would have been kicked out and would not be president now.

CR just sees it as BEE transactions.

That is why that legislation is not working and needs to change. Besides corruption, that is the single biggest issue retarding growth in SA.

I wonder if anyone in the movement is, to put it delicately, having bowel movements?

These ‘COMMISSIONS’ are a great distraction to the public, in much the same way as the GAMES were to the Romans.

Explosive revelations – not really, these are all known facts and go way back before 2017.

The ROT, corruption and outright blatant theft that took place within the Ministry of Public Enterprise portfolio (look at what was in that portfolio!), really is difficult to fathom.

The 3 musketeers as they were often referred to in some circles, all of whom have been dismissed/ disgraced as a matter of public record.

Look no further than Malusi Gigaba, Brian Molefe and Siyabonga Gama, where there are still ongoing investigations on all 3. What will come of this – probably nothing. Why, because they know too much and some of those that they allegedly know too much about, are of course still in very powerful positions today.

Public Enterprises was captured many many years ago by the Guptas (one of the main reasons the Zondo commission exists not so), all 3 of the above men had extensive relationships with the Guptas. This capture had yielded illicit billions for the powers that controlled it – if they had stayed there, likely they would have still been looting today.

However, greed can never be satisfied, it was their attempted capture of the Treasury that DERAILED them (excuse the pun). Firing Nene and deploying Des van Rooyen – at THAT time was a step too far even for the most liberal and destructive within the ANC. After treasury it would have progressed to SARB and the GEPF – sound familiar.

The question now – has the Covid 19 ‘disaster’ – provided the perfect cover for what have always been alleged long term objectives within Luthuli house? What Zuma did overtly, has for all intents and purposes just about been nearly done covertly not so – Time will tell.

If these people knew the state the correctional services are in, they would have thought twice before committing these crimes……dit lyk sleg in die tronke…sleg!

Sad to say , these people are so corrupt – they are laughing at our comments! At the end of the day they will just do a Schabir Shaik -trick and avoid going to jail.

We regularly hear this line of reasoning – socialism and communism are morally justifiable and effective in bringing equality as long as the system is free of corruption. This is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. To imply that any collectivist system can be corruption free is like saying a skunk can be kept as a pet, like a cat, as long as it does not stink. That a wounded leopard can be approached as long as your intentions are pure.

Corruption is an inherent part of all collectivist organisations. To remove corruption, law and order have to be brought in. Law and order are inherent to the capitalist free-market system where property rights enforce accountability and responsible behaviour patterns.

Therefore, privatisation is the only way to end the corruption that eventually ruins all collectivist economies. Privatisation brings the law and order that accompanies property rights. Privatisation concentrates and ring-fences errors and criminality in the hands of the owners of the business. The Steinhoff issue is a case in point. The general population was isolated from the destruction of value, while the shareholders, the owners, suffered losses.

Collectivism delivers the opposite results. It isolates and protects the perpetrators of plunder from the cost of their plunder, by distributing the cost among the collective. Ace Magashule sits comfortably in Luthuli House while the Estina dairy project delivered poverty to that community. The collectivist culture incentives the most unscrupulous individuals in that group to exploit the rest at an ever-increasing rate because accountability is shared by the collective, while the fruits of plunder are individualised in the hands of the exploiter.

What do you call the ANC without corruption? – The Freedom Front Plus, or the DA even. If you don’t want corruption, then vote for a party that stands for free-market principles. Anybody who supports the ANC or the EFF do so because they are waiting for their opportunity to loot.

Unfortunately it’s this facade of so called democracy that hold the average voter blind to reality.

They have been suffering and continue to suffer in the dark because they know not what light looks like.

Take the current Covid lock down, my son did not go out side for almost the entire period as we live on the 26th floor. The first time he went to the beach I was as if he had just been freed and he ran quite literally until he collapsed.

Can you imagine what the average voter would be like if for the first time on 21 years they saw the light of a competent government.

Alas the room needs to get darker until all glimpses of light vanishes.

The BEACH? You criminal you! But seriously, the harm being done to young children by sentencing them to solitary confinement for months on end, is immense. It seems as if the NCCC consulted everybody from sangomas to soothsayers, just not psycologists.

When is someone going to be tried and put in jail?
Millions have been and still will be WASTED at this Commission who has achieved NOTHING!!!!!!
This is the only country where Lawyers are UNABLE to PROSECUTE the GUILTY?
I WOULD TO BE A LAWYER IN THIS COUNTRY!

It’s pretty clear. The ANC always knew with their arrival at the trough, they had to steal money, but they are not astute enough to do so on massive scale, as this is different from stealing thy neighbors cattle, so they partnered with the Gupta’s to help them … at any cost. The whole exec knows this. What do you think it the chance they will ever relinquish power. They can’t! Never.

Justice delayed is Justice Denied.

The criminals are known, their actions are wide spread and there no consequences for their unpatriotic acts.

The so called Cronies are a short term super stars, they are in to win it, the longer they stay the more confident they become and the more theft gets committed.

How to Hi-Jack a country is the only story ANC has to tell.

How does an Angolan businesswoman, Maria da Cruz Gomes, who Zuma knows personally, and visited in her plush home in a Sandton, get to control a critical and strategic Prasa deal?

Surely the procurement system in SA is so broken and so opaque that there needs to be a change to procurement legislation to make sure that this never happens again.

Maybe all of the ANC top 10 received kickbacks.

What on earth did the dear Judge do to deserve dealing with this. he is a likable and capable man and now has to deal with corruption on such a scale he will need to spend years writing his report. If one thinks how hard he works compared to the CC judges…well life is not fair

Yawn, another day in good old SA. Waiting for the next excuse from Shamila.

Hahaa. Yaa. “Building capacity” does not really do it for me anymore.

If this were a fiction TV show, at this point armed police would burst into the hearing and arrest anyone of these thieves connected with this scam.

Then it would cut to teams of uniformed investigators raiding homes, seizing computers and handcuffed people been pushed into black people movers.

But hey! This is South Africa! So …. cut to a cocktail bar in Sandton where Mr Walker is being poured and glitzy girls are stroking the heads of their ANC connected boyfriends.

Sigh …

Another waste of dwindling taxpayers money – this commission ,that commission .article not worth reading .
The govt , the prosecutor , the judge all stalling , ducking and diving just to keep the lIkes of the IMF ON THE HOOK All in the same club
BLAH BLAH BLAH
Zooms will not see one day in jail – blah blah blah

Free US from this ridiculous lock-down and LOCK UP these gangsters!!!!!!

It is sad to see that we are wasting money on Zondo Commission when the NPA and the Hawks could be doing investigations and arrents. When anyone with evidence/information could come forward and help the NPA and the Hawks, they choose this TALK SHOW. I have come to the conclusion that the Zondo Commission is a waste of my tax money. It should end now.

It is ironic that the Zondo Commission, that has to investigate the wastage of State funds, is itself wasting so much. Instead of expensive private counsel to lead evidence, state advocates, which are already paid by the taxpayers, could have been used to lead evidence. Further, there is no reason that those interviewed need private counsel, they could have been represented by Legal Aid counsel at a fraction of the cost.

Judge Zondo himself is earning a high salary as deputy chief justice and then paid again by the taxpayers for his work on the commission.

This waste of public money is doubly ironic, as judge Zondo himself grew up desperately poor. The money he wastes could have helped other poor people.

End of comments.

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