Law enforcement agencies need to clamp down on those implicated in corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, said Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The minister was addressing media in Parliament on Wednesday. He named the department’s new director general Alec Moemi, whose appointment comes into effect on August 1. Among Moemi’s priorities is the implementation of interventions at Prasa.
“Corruption and criminality will not go unpunished,” Mbalula said, referring to the corrupt elements surrounding the procurement of locomotives by the entity in 2014.
“A significant investment aimed at improving the Shosholoza Meyl service was corrupted by unscrupulous people whose interest was to line their own pockets,” he said.
“The consequences will be dire for those who were responsible for this criminality that resulted in a loss of billions to the fiscus,” Mbalula added. He said the culprits involved in corruption must be “brought to book”.
He said that the board of Prasa has been mandated to litigate to recover public funds which have been lost through corrupt activities. “The law must take its course,” Mbalula said.
The interim board’s term ends on September 1, and advertisements have been issued for new board applicants. Mbalula said he will meet with the current board on Thursday to discuss the implementation of a war room.
A steering committee and ministerial war room is playing an oversight role of the turnaround strategy. Among the interventions includes service recovery which focuses on train performance, safety management and the implementation of a modernisation programme. Mbalula said details of how the war room will “shape up” the entity will be provided in due course.
Mbalula also mentioned that security measures are in place to prevent planned strike action this week from escalating into violence.
The strike to be held on Friday July 26, 2019 is led by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and involves Prasa’s majority union United National Transport Union. The strike is not against Prasa but rather government. “The mass action will have a major impact on Prasa’s Metrorail commuter service thus affecting train operations countrywide,” the DoT said in a separate statement.
Prasa is planning to run a reduced service – in the form of a Saturday and Sunday service time table. It depends on the demand and availability of Safety Critical staff to operate the service. Updates on service availability are expected to be provided on a regular basis until Friday.