Popo Molefe vows Prasa will retrieve R2bn from Swifambo
Swifambo Rail Leasing to file an appeal, which the Passenger Rail Agency of SA board chairman says will be opposed
Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) board chairman Popo Molefe says the rail agency will do everything in its power to recover the R2bn it paid to Swifambo for locomotives, including applying for the company to get sequestrated.
Swifambo Rail Leasing told Business Day it would file its appeal papers in the High Court in Johannesburg in the matter involving Prasa’s R2.6bn locomotive procurement deal on Monday.
Last week it emerged that Prasa was pursuing the R2.6bn which it paid to Swifambo.
Molefe said Prasa intended to oppose Swifambo’s application for leave to appeal, but said that Swifambo’s appeal would not be on the merits of the transaction itself as this was not contested by the firm in the original case.
"Prasa is ready but we would like for people to notice that in the original case, Swifambo did not challenge the merits of the case, but the 180 days can be challenged. The second thing is while they may have benefited in being awarded the contract, they themselves are as innocent as snow because all the shenanigans were happening at Prasa," said Molefe.
Swifambo did not have a valid tax certificate, meaning under the Public Finance Management Act rules, it should not have even participated in the tender process, let alone get awarded the tender, Molefe said. An appeal would only be on the basis of a technicality.
"As far as recovering the R2bn, we will have to follow what the law allows. You know how it goes, you refuse and we have the option to sequestrate you. The thing is the law must dictate what specific action must take place.
"If you plead poverty, the ruling says that Swifambo was a front for Vossloh Espana and if we can’t get the money from Swifambo we will get the money from Vossloh Espana. Again, this depends entirely on what the law allows us to do."
In a letter to Swifambo, Prasa lawyer Werksmans Attorneys said unless its client received payment together with interest by the close of business on Wednesday Prasa would "take the appropriate steps to enforce its rights, all of which remain reserved".
Swifambo’s legal assistant told Business Day the company would appeal against the high court ruling on Monday.