Popo Molefe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Popo Molefe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The controversial contract between the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Swifambo Rail Agency has been reviewed and set aside by the High Court in Johannesburg.

In a judgment handed down on Monday, Judge J Francis said the contract was "peppered with many irregularities".

The R3.5bn contract was awarded when Deputy Minister of Finance Sfiso Buthelezi was chairman of the Prasa board and Lucky Montana was CE.

It vindicates board chairman Popo Molefe, who has been accused of spending money on pointless investigations into alleged corruption at Prasa.

The application to have the contract reviewed and set aside was brought by the current Prasa board under Molefe.

Molefe and his board have again been reportedly asked to provide reasons why they should not be fired to Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi, after a previous decision to dissolve the board by former transport minister Dipuo Peters was set aside by the court.

The term of the Molefe-led board comes to an end soon.

Prasa had also filed a civil claim against the company to recoup monies it paid for 70 unsuitable trains it provided to Prasa. The contract has been set aside and the company has been ordered to pay costs.

"Harm will be done were I to allow an unlawful tender to remain intact," the judgment read. "Harm will be done to the whistleblowers who were able to blow a whistle to members of the reconstituted board.

"Harm will be done if the benefactors of the tender were allowed to reap the benefits of their spoils. Harm will be done to the administration of justice if this award is not set aside from the onset. Corruption will triumph if this does not set aside the tender."

The court said Swifambo should not have been allowed to take part in the bid in the first place as it did not have a valid tax clearance certificate.

The methodology used in the scoring process for the contract was "irrational and unreasonable" and "inferred" that the specifications were "tailored to benefit Swifambo", it said.

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