Inaction over Prasa looting baffles Zondo
Deputy chief justice says it appears that nobody in authority cares to recover the stolen billions
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo says it is puzzling that no-one is being held accountable for looting at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) while Jacob Zuma was president.
The state capture commission chair lamented the situation as former Prasa board chair Popo Molefe wrapped up his testimony about alleged corruption, fraud and maladministration that was identified during his term.
Zondo said it is frustrating that authorities from law enforcement, the executive — then and now — as well as parliament have not pushed for the recovery of lost taxpayer money from those who unduly benefited.
What made the Prasa looting difficult to stomach, he said, was that billions of rand had been siphoned off. This money, he said, would have come in handy at a time such as this, when substantial sums are needed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its effects.
Zondo’s comments came after Molefe led evidence that showed how friends of former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana allegedly helped themselves at the agency. This included contracts that were irregularly awarded to companies whose owners were linked to Montana and politically connected businessman Roy Moodley.
The wrongs that took place at Prasa led to a complete collapse of governance, leading to the agency having no permanent CEO or board for five years.
“You know, two-point-something billion [rand] — you are talking lots of taxpayers’ money here,” Zondo said.
“Despite all of this being well known to the portfolio committee on transport, to MPs, to the executive at that time and now, why is there no clear action that is known in the public domain being pursued to get this money back?
“This is taxpayers’ money, so that is part of the worry. I mean, why do you have five years without an institution having a CEO? Why do you have interim boards?
“These questions make one think there could be something big behind all of this. How can there be no visible action to recover R2.6bn lost by an organ of state? We know the people on the ground have lots of needs ... but all these things are just left hanging.”
It appeared that nobody in authority cared to recover the stolen money, said Zondo. “It is as if everybody just wants that to be forgotten, so the commission must look into that — as to who has not been doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
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