Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: ELIJAR MUSHIANA/SOWETAN
Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: ELIJAR MUSHIANA/SOWETAN

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi is set to put the brakes on the Werksmans Attorneys investigation at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which has cost R150m and is said to have saved the rail agency R2.5bn.

Werksmans was appointed to investigate the scale of mismanagement unearthed in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the utility, called Derailed.

The Treasury is now investigating 130 contracts worth a minimum of R10m.

Maswanganyi defended the Prasa interim board before Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport and signalled that he would be closing in on the Werksmans Attorneys probe.

"The interim board is a full board and will be appointed on a permanent basis when the time is appropriate. Give the board time to do its work," he said

Prasa was the worst-performing state-owned business for 2015-16 and was unable to table its 2016-17 report to Parliament ahead of the deadline.

Maswanganyi said the major priorities for Prasa remained filling vacancies, including those of the CEO and executives. Despite the investigations, which no one was going to deny, everyone at Prasa was working to contribute to the entity, he said.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has monitored the implementation of the remedial action from the Derailed report. Public protector manager for compliance Serapelo Nkosi wrote to Mkhwebane to say Prasa was implementing the outlined remedial action.

"The parastatal has appointed forensic investigators to investigate some of the allegations, criminal cases were opened and in some cases legal opinions were received in order to advise Prasa regarding the legal ramifications of some of its officials," said Nkosi.

The Treasury said: "Prasa is still considering the reports and submitting some documents that were not available during the investigation. Details on all other investigations will be communicated once processes have been concluded."

When committee member for the DA Manny de Freitas challenged the minister on why Prasa still had no permanent board, Maswanganyi rebuffed him, saying the board was capable and qualified to maintain leadership at Prasa. When the MP asked why Werksmans was not being allowed to continue its investigation, Maswanganyi said the department could not justify spending R150m.

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