Prasa locomotive. Picture: PRASA
Prasa locomotive. Picture: PRASA

The embattled, state-owned Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which was placed under administration in December, has suspended 12 senior officials for allegations of gross misconduct emanating from various investigations.

On Friday afternoon, Prasa said it suspended the officials pending a disciplinary process into the allegations, and that the employees come from various business units, regions and departments within the agency.

“This action is consistent with the mandate given to Prasa administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo when he took office in December of 2019. Among other responsibilities, Mpondo has the task of “ensuring effective consequence management and provide support to investigations currently underway by law enforcement authorities”, Prasa said in a statement.

“The suspensions are in line with the administrator’s commitment to ensuring good governance, as well as the eradication of corruption, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure by various employees throughout the organisation. The action is also a response to repeated damning findings by the auditor-general and the public protector.”

Prasa, which has implemented five turnaround strategies since its creation, is among state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dogged by governance, operational and financial challenges, due to state capture, which cost SA an estimated R500bn.

Prasa said some of the suspensions arise from ongoing investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into contracts and payments made by the company “from January 1 2010 to the present, with a view to uncovering corruption”.

“Prasa is going through a debilitating cash-flow crunch that has depleted its operational budget and further led to the company failing to pay suppliers and creditors. Prasa’s dire financial position is in part due to irregular expenditure amounting to billions of rand under the watch of successive boards and the executive.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za